THE WHITE RIBBON
1. COVERED RIDING SCHOOL OF THE MANORIAL ESTATE INT/DAY
MONTAGE OF CLOSE-SHOTS:
A man is riding a dressage horse. We can't see his face.
Only his boots, spurs, whip, the taut reins, the horse's
foamy mouth, the movements that steer the animal.
We watch him for a while and hear the SNORTS of the
horse, the dull SOUND of THE HOOVES on the ground, the
fast-uttered COMMANDS of the rider. Then we start to
hear a gentle voice:
NARRATOR (o.s.):I don't know if the story that I
want to tell you, reflects the truth in every
detail. Much of it I only know by hearsay, and a
lot of it remains obscure to me even today, and
I must leave it in darkness. Many of these
questions remain without answer. But I believe I
must tell of the strange events that occurred in
our village, because they may cast a new light
on some of the goings-on in this country...
LONG SHOT OF THE RIDING STABLES.
The rider is the village doctor, a gaunt, intellectual-
looking man of around 60, who has finished his dressage
session, and now rides toward the open gate beside the
CAMERA, goes through it and into the landscape. We see
him in the avenue, now visible behind him, and watch him
grow smaller until he vanishes.
NARRATOR (o.s. continuing):...Everything began,
if I remember correctly, with the doctor's
riding accident. After his dressage session in
the manor's riding school, he was first headed
for his home...
2. THE DOCTOR'S PROPERTY EXT/DAY
The garden opens up on the meadows and fields of the
The doctor lies beside his wounded horse. His arm is
strangely twisted, his broken collarbone has made a bump
in the blood-drenched jacket. He yells with pain.
After a few moments Xenia, the doctor's 12-year old
daughter, comes running out of the house. She rushes up
to her father and looks at him, horrified, then at the
twitching horse, screams with horror. Her father shouts
something to her, she bends over him and tries to raise
him to his feet. He screams at her as he's in such pain.
She staggers back helplessly, he shouts something to her
again, whereupon she runs off. We hear all this from far
away, because during the whole scene the narrator has
continued his tale:
NARRATOR: ...to see if any of his patients had
arrived. As it entered the property, the horse
had tripped over a hardly visible, taut wire
that had been strung between two trees.
The doctor's fourteen-year old daughter had
watched the accident from the window of the
house, and was able to inform the woman who was
their neighbor, who in turn got the message to
the manor house, so that the agonizing doctor
could be transported to the hospital of the
district capital that was over 30 kilometers
3. VILLAGE-STREET AND SCHOOL EXT/DAY
Emilie Wagner, a skinny, modestly dressed woman in her
late thirties hurries along the village street.
NARRATOR: ...The neighbor, a single woman of
around 40, was the village midwife, who had
filled the invaluable position of housekeeper
and receptionist for the doctor since the death
of his wife in childbirth.
After tending to the doctor's two children, she
had gone to the school to fetch her own son,
Hans. Since she didn't like leaving him alone,
she asked me - in return for a small fee - to
keep him at the school with me every day, after
the other children had finished their lessons.
But on the day of the riding accident there was
choir practice in the afternoon, so that most of
the children were still present.
A few children pass Emilie and greet her. Then she
reaches the school. The door is open. The schoolchildren
We see the schoolteacher, a slight man, hardly 30 years
old, talking inside to some of the older students.
Martin, a tall gangly boy of around 12, whose elegant
clothes make him stand out among the other children
coming out of the school, turns to the midwife:
MARTIN: Were you at Xenia's place?
He's interrupted by Marie, a delicate, pretty and polite
girl of around 13 who has the odd characteristic of
already behaving like an adult.
MARIE: Can't you say hello? Good afternoon, Mrs.
Wagner, excuse me.
MIDWIFE: Hello, Marie.
MARIE: We're so worried, you know. That's why
Martin forgot his manners.
MIDWIFE: That's all right.
MARIE: How is the Doctor?
MIDWIFE: Not very well.
MARIE: Will he have to stay in the hospital?
MIDWIFE: I don't know.
The midwife is tired of Marie's precocious and endless
questions. She peers over the heads of children
surrounding them, looking for someone in the classroom.
MARIE: We'll take care of Xenia. Maybe, we can
help her somehow.
MIDWIFE (distracted): Good idea. It'll cheer her
She has seen her son, who's coming out of the door: he
is a mongoloid boy of 8. His name is Hans. He hesitates,
as he sees his mother surrounded by the others. The
midwife leaves the group and goes over to him.
MIDWIFE: Well, did you enjoy the singing?
HANS (nods eagerly): It was great!
The schoolteacher comes in.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Show your mother what you've been
Hans looks doubtfully, first at the schoolteacher, then
at his mother, who nods at him encouragingly. After
hesitating for a second, he starts to SING:
HANS: La... La... lalala...
MARIE turns to leave.
MARIE: Good-bye, Sir. Good-bye, Mrs. Wagner.
Her saying good-bye acts as an invitation to the other
children: they also SAY GOOD-BYE, though some less
distinctively, and follow the girl.
TRACKING SHOT with the children. After a short distance,
Georg, a strong boy of around 13, shouts, encouraging
GEORG: Last one is a rotten egg!
Then he sprints off. Most of the children follow him.
But Marie and some of the other kids merely walk off at
a brisk pace.
The CAMERA, that stopped when Georg ran off, now FOLLOWS
Marie, so that, after a while, the others can be seen
again at the far end of the street.
4. THE DOCTOR'S HOUSE INT/DAY
Xenia, who is herself in a pitiful condition, holds her
four-year-old brother Rudolph on her knees. She rocks
him and herself back and forth. As his head is bowed, we
can only guess that he's crying. After a while
XENIA (quietly): If you want, I can cut out some
animals for you, as I did last week?
Would you like that?!
Rudolph shakes his head faintly.
We could color them together, no?
Or we could cut them from the lovely colored
paper? The golden one, do you remember? The one
I got for Easter?
No reaction. Xenia ends up pressing her head helplessly
against her little brother's head and mutters:
Come on, come on.
They remain that way for a while. Finally Xenia raises
Rudolph high enough so she can stand up:
All right! Now I'm going to make us something to
eat. Mrs. Wagner has prepared everything, I...
RUDOLPH (interrupts her softly, his head still
bowed): What if he never comes back?
XENIA (as if she hasn't understood): What?
Rudolph merely shakes his bowed head. Xenia kneels down
in front of her brother and tries to look into his eyes,
but the boy bows his head even deeper.
XENIA (tenderly): Come on! Don't be stupid! It
goes away just like the flu. Remember last
winter? You were very sick, weren't you? And
then, two weeks later...
A NOISE makes her cock her ear: it's as if something had
hit the window in the next room.
Xenia stands up and listens. SILENCE. And then, after
listening for a while, once again the same noise.
She goes into the OTHER ROOM and, hiding behind the
curtain, looks out.
Outside, the group of children are gathered around
Marie. They look up at the house. They're waiting for
After a while, Georg, the boy who earlier had urged them
to race, throws another stone at the window. Xenia is
startled. She hesitates. Finally, she opens the window.
GEORG: Hi, Xeni!
Xenia doesn't answer. After a while
MARIE(quietly): How are you? Can we help you?
5. MANOR EXT/NIGHT
The steward of the estate, a heavy set rustic man in his
mid fifties, is talking with the landowner (who's about
the same age). They are standing beside a team of
carthorses. With a torch the steward lights up a dead
horse that lies on the ground after being towed in by
STEWARD: ...its tendons were almost severed. It
never would have recovered.
The landowner bends down and examines the wounds on the
pasterns of the dead animal's front legs.
LANDOWNER: How did that thing get there? Didn't
the Doctor say anything?
STEWARD (with a snicker): He was in no mood to
talk, with his collarbone sticking out of his
throat. I asked his daughter. She has no idea.
He always rides through those trees.
LANDOWNER: Did you look at the wire?
STEWARD: Of course. It's thin, but strong. You
can hardly see it, if you don't look closely.
LANDOWNER: But why was it tied there?
STEWARD (shrugging): And at knee height! I don't
know... Maybe so the kids could jump over it. No
idea. I don't think the doctor himself was
stupid enough to tie that thing there.
STEWARD: Meaning: I don't know. Anyway it was
definitely put there intentionally and looks
6. MANOR. LIVING ROOM ON THE TOP FLOOR. INT/NIGHT
Sigi, the 9-year old son of the landowner stands at the
window, and watches his father and the steward standing
in the torchlight beside the dead horse.
In the background MUSIC (Piano/violin).
After a short while the two men down in the courtyard
separate: the landowner heads to the manor, the steward
with the team of carthorses to a farm building.
Sigi turns away from the window and looks into the room.
There his mother Beatrix, a beautiful, nervous woman in
her late thirties, is sitting at a baby grand piano.
Beside her stands the tutor, holding a violin tucked
under his chin. He looks as if he's in his late
twenties, plump and slightly greasy, and obviously
infatuated with his beautiful employer, who has just
interrupted her playing with an annoyed sigh.
TUTOR: I'm sorry, Madame. You're just playing
too well for me.
BEATRIX: Stop apologizing and concentrate.
That'll be more helpful for both of us.
TUTOR: To tell the truth: You're just playing
too fast for me. I'm not Paganini.
Beatrix looks up at him with a quick amused smile, then
turns back the pages of her sheet music.
BEATRIX: Well, let's start all over again at the
The tutor does the same, they glance at each other and
Sigi watches them from the window, then he saunters in,
stops some distance away and watches. Then he saunters
Suddenly, Beatrix stops playing again.
BEATRIX: Listen, darling. If you like the music,
then sit down beside me and turn the pages of
the sheet music. But if you're bored, go up to
your room and at least stay out of my sight. It
makes me nervous if you're constantly sauntering
around in front of me.
Sigi bows his head ashamed, but doesn't move.
BEATRIX (turning to the tutor): By the way, what
time is it? Where is the girl?
The tutor pulls out his pocket watch.
TUTOR: She's with the twins, I presume. Twenty
BEATRIX: Twenty to nine?! (turning to Sigi): You
should have been in bed long ago. (to the
tutor): Has he done his homework?
TUTOR: Of course, Madame.
BEATRIX: All right. (to Sigi): Well, do you want
to turn the pages for me or not?
BEATRIX: Then come here!
With a little caustic smile, she taps beside her on the
piano bench. Sigi comes over sits down beside her and
looks at the sheet music. Beatrix turns the pages back.
BEATRIX (to the tutor): All right, here we go
again: the letter D. Try to play a bit faster.
Or else I might as well play with the village
They PLAY again. Sigi reads the music with her, then
turns the page.
7. RECTORY. DINING ROOM. INT/NIGHT
Marie and Martin come through the door and stand in
front of it.
At the dinner table, the pastor (in his mid-forties)
sits with his back to the door. In front of him, at the
other end of the table, sits his wife Anna, a woman in
her late forties. On the sides of the table sit the
Anton (11), Magdalena (10), Katharina (9) and Florian
(7). Two other places are empty.
The table is set for 8 people, but the plates are empty.
MARIE (quietly): Please forgive us.
MARTIN (following her lead): Please forgive us.
SILENCE. Then the pastor speaks very quietly, without
turning to the two children:
PASTOR: There's no question of forgiving. You
haven't offended me. It's your mother and your
brothers and sisters that you have frightened
away and offended. Ask them for forgiveness.
You amaze me. I didn't know that the two oldest
and therefore most reasonable of my children
wouldn't mind frightening their mother and
brothers and sisters to death.
He turns around toward the two children:
Are you now grown up enough to live on your own?
Are you? Do you want to leave home and start a
life of your own? So you can come and go as you
please, and nobody gets in your way. Is that
what you want?
The two remain silent, their heads bowed. The pastor
turns his back to them again, and faces the table.
Nobody at this table has eaten tonight. When it
grew dark, and you hadn't returned, your mother
went all over the village in tears, looking for
you. Do you really think we could've enjoyed our
meal, if we feared something had happened to
Do you think we can enjoy our meal now, when
you've come back and dish up lies as an excuse?
I don't know what's worse: your absence or your
coming back. (PAUSE).
Tonight we shall all go to bed hungry.
He stands up, followed by the mother and the children
who were sitting at the table. Again he turns to the two
PASTOR: You probably agree with me, that I
cannot leave your offense unpunished, if we want
keep living in mutual respect. So, tomorrow
evening at this hour, I shall give each of you
10 strokes of the cane. Until then, you have
time to ponder over your offense. Do you agree
MARIE and MARTIN: Yes, Father.
PASTOR: All right then. Go to bed now, all of
The children who were sitting at the table go first to
their mother, then to their father. They kiss their
hands and leave the room. As Marie and Martin want to do
the same, the father says
PASTOR: I refuse to be touched by you. Your
mother and I will sleep poorly because we know I
have to hurt you tomorrow, and because it will
more painful to us than the strokes will be
painful to you. Leave us alone and go to bed.
As the two children are about to leave the room, he says
PASTOR: When you were small, your mother once in
a while would tie a ribbon in your hair or
around your arm. Its white color was to remind
you of innocence and purity. I thought that at
your age you were well-mannered enough to get by
without such reminders. I was wrong. Tomorrow,
once you've been purified by your punishment,
your mother will tie such a ribbon on you again,
and you'll wear it until your behavior shows us
that we can trust you again.
8. THE DOCTOR'S PROPERTY EXT/DAY
CLOSE ANGLE: one of the trees to which the wire was tied
that tripped up the doctor's horse. A policeman is
looking for clues.
With him are Xenia, Rudolph, the midwife and her son
The two boys don't show much interest in the
investigation. They run after each other in the garden
and the neighboring fields. Hans especially seems enjoy
this, and is shrieking with delight.
POLICEMAN: Where is the wire now?
The midwife looks at Xenia, who shrugs her shoulders.
POLICEMAN: Then who took it away?
XENIA: I don't know.
POLICEMAN: You weren't here?
Xenia, uncertain, looks at the midwife.
POLICEMAN: Did you accompany your father? To
POLICEMAN: That means you were here.
XENIA: I was in school. Today.
POLICEMAN: And when you left for school, the
wire was still here?
XENIA: I didn't check.
The policeman turns to the midwife:
POLICEMAN: And when did you come?
MIDWIFE: At noon. I make lunch for the Doctor
and the kids. Since the death of the Doctor's
wife, I've been helping him out.
POLICEMAN: Since when?
MIDWIFE: It's been 4 years. Since the birth of
little Rudolph. I'm the midwife here. We often
POLICEMAN: But you didn't see anything?
POLICEMAN: Do you have any idea how long the
wire had been there?
MIDWIFE: I'd never seen it before.
POLICEMAN (angrily): Let me get this straight:
Nobody saw the thing before, nobody saw it
afterwards. It wound itself around the two trees
all alone, and made itself vanish after the
doctor's fall. Right?
Neither the midwife nor Xenia know what to answer. At
that moment Hans comes running in from the field,
HANS: Mother! ... Look! ...Look... come!
MIDWIFE (reluctantly): What's happening?
HANS: People! ...Lots of people. Come!!
MIDWIFE (to the policeman): Sorry...
Indeed, as the midwife sets outs for the field, a group
of people hurry along the path bordering the doctor's
property, and cross our POV. They carry a body on a
makeshift stretcher. The policeman and Xenia follow the
midwife. The group vanishes as quickly as it appeared
behind the surrounding bushes.
As the group was approaching, we have been hearing
NARRATOR: The day following the doctor's riding
accident not only brought no solution to the
question of who'd done it, but a second, far
more tragic incident almost made people forget
the misfortune of the previous day: the wife of
a tenant farmer died in a work-accident.
9. FARM INT/DAY
It's very dark in the low-ceilinged room. Small windows.
A couple of women in peasant dresses take care of the
dead woman, who's been laid out on the bed. The women
remove her clothes and wash her.
NARRATOR: The woman, who because of an injured
arm could only do light work, had been dispensed
by the steward from harvesting chores, and was
assigned to easier work in the sawmill.
Everything happens very silently. An elderly woman, a
midwife specialized in bathing, takes care of the
Every time the door is opened, one hears the mutterings
of the people waiting outside. Soiled water is carried
out, new underwear brought in, and the women start to
clothe the naked corpse again.
Outside, the sounds of excited VOICES are getting
louder. Then the door opens and the farmer (around
fifty) enters the room. The old midwife turns around
BATHING-MIDWIFE: You stay outside! I haven't
FARMER (quietly): Get out!
Reluctantly, the old midwife abandons her half completed
work, not without having spread the dress she had draped
over the still half-naked body of the dead woman. The
other women follow her, embarrassed.
Once the door has closed behind them, the farmer just
stands there. Only after a long while does he move
forward and sit beside his dead wife. He remains seated,
motionless. For a very long time. He only tugs once at
the dress draped over the half-naked body, as if he
wanted to cover a patch of nudity. Then he just sits
there again in the dark room, and only his halting
breath lets us know that any moment he may cry.
10. A RIVER AND MEADOW WITH BRIDGE EXT/DAY
With his net and his fishing rod the schoolteacher is
landing a fish.
NARRATOR: On the same day, I had a strange
encounter: the weather was beautiful and hot, so
I decided to try and improve my meager menu with
some brown trout, which are plentiful in the
river. The landowner apparently liked me, and
allowed me to fish.
Suddenly, the schoolteacher stops dead: like a tightrope
walker Martin is walking along on the top of the wall of
the bridge, thirty feet above the riverbed.
SCHOOLTEACHER (shouts, fearful): Martin!
The boy doesn't seem to hear him and keeps up his
SCHOOLTEACHER (louder): Martin!!
The boy keeps at it.
The schoolteacher quickly wades ashore, throws his
fishing rod and the net and the wriggling fish on the
gravel beside the river and climbs up the river bank.
When he gets on top, he sees the boy balancing himself
at the other end of the bridge.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Martin, be careful!
The boy takes a few more steps, then reaches the end of
the wall and jumps down onto the bridge. Hesitatingly,
he turns to the schoolteacher, who comes toward him.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Are you completely insane? ! Do
you want to break your neck? !
MARTIN (his head bowed): Hello, sir.
The schoolteacher has reached him.
SCHOOLTEACHER: What's happening? Are you mad? !
Don't you know how high that is?
The boy remains silent, keeping his head bent down.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Didn't you hear me? I shouted to
MARTIN (after a short silence): Yes, I did.
The boy remains silent.
Keeping his head bowed, the boy shrugs a little. The
schoolteacher, realizing that this won't get him any
further, tries again, talking in a gentle voice:
SCHOOLTEACHER: You saw me down there and wanted
to impress me?
The boy shakes his head.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Well, why didn't you...
MARTIN (interrupting him) I gave God an
opportunity to kill me. He didn't do it. That
means, he's pleased with me.
SCHOOLTEACHER (staggered): What are you saying?
MARTIN: He doesn't want me to die.
SCHOOLTEACHER (bewildered): Who? Who doesn't
want you to die?
SCHOOLTEACHER: Why would God want you to die?
The boy stops answering, his head bowed again. The
schoolteacher remains silent and looks at him for a
while. Then, he adds softly:
Promise me never to do such nonsense again. All
right? Look at me.
Martin looks up reluctantly.
Promise it to me.
Martin remains silent. He doesn't dare look down, and
instead looks past the schoolteacher.
You don't trust me, don't you?
MARTIN (polite, emotionless): Yes, I do, Sir.
The schoolteacher realizes that there's no use in
talking any further.
SCHOOLTEACHER (concluding): All right. Go home
now. I'll be coming tomorrow for the piano
lesson. I'll talk to your father then.
Martin turns and faces the schoolteacher, and says in
such a pleading voice that it startles him:
MARTIN: Please, don't tell him! Please, sir,
Martin just looks pleadingly at the schoolteacher and
shakes his head, as if to stress his request.
11. SAWMILL INT/DAY
Franz, the farmer eldest son, is searching for evidence
of his mother's accident. He is accompanied by the
neighbor's son Matti, a slight boy of around 16.
The sawmill is a ramshackle wooden building beside the
Matti, who obviously was there when the accident
happened, shows Franz the place.
MATTI: There. Be careful. Everything's rotten
Franz moves slowly forward. He looks down at the lower
floor. Immediately below: the saw. Franz steps back
carefully and turns to Matti:
FRANZ: Who made her climb up here?
MATTI: I haven't a clue. They told us to collect
all the lose ends. She just climbed up there.
FRANZ: She could never stand heights. It made
Who assigned you to this job?
MATTI (uneasy): You know how it works. The
sawmill needed to be cleaned up, and the foremen
pick the weaker harvesters
FRANZ: Who picked her?
12. STREET AT THE END OF THE VILLAGE EXT/DAY
The schoolteacher with his fishing gear and several fish
that he caught.
NARRATOR: It was on my way home after the
strange encounter with Martin that I met Eva for
the first time.
Eva (18), a redhead, somewhat chubby, but pretty girl,
crosses him way on her bicycle. A big bag is strapped to
the baggage carrier.
EVA (passing by): Hello.
The schoolteacher stops, turns to the girl:
SCHOOLTEACHER (hesitantly): Excuse me!
EVA (Off): Yes?
SCHOOLTEACHER (embarrassed): Excuse me for
accosting you this way. You're the new nanny of
the Baron's children, aren't you?
We hear the bicycle stopping.
EVA (o.s.): Why?
The schoolteacher has turned around and now moves toward
SCHOOLTEACHER: They say you're from Oberdorf.
EVA: Who says that?
SCHOOLTEACHER: Folks around here.
EVA: Oh. So what?
SCHOOLTEACHER: Nothing. I don't know. Sorry. I'm
the schoolteacher here. I just thought I... I
don't know (he laughs embarrassed): when I saw
you, I thought... I'm from Grundbach... I'm the
EVA: I know.
SCHOOLTEACHER (confused): What?
EVA: The Baroness already told me.
SCHOOLTEACHER: What did she tell you?
EVA: That the schoolteacher is from the village
next to mine.
SCHOOLTEACHER (laughs): Oh, I see! Yes. Well...
I thought... (he points at the bag on the
baggage carrier): You look as if you're going
SCHOOLTEACHER: Back home. To Oberdorf.
EVA (doesn't understand what he's referring to):
SCHOOLTEACHER: Are you going there?
EVA: Yes, I am.
SCHOOLTEACHER (doesn't know what to say): Well,
I thought... since you'll cycle through our
village... you might perhaps...(he's thinking,
looks down and sees the fish): ... say hello to
my father and (laughing at his own idea, he
holds up a fish) bring him one of the fishes.
They're fresh. I just caught them.
Now Eva laughs too.
SCHOOLTEACHER (smiling as if to apologize):
Well. I'm sure he'd be delighted. Especially as
it's the start of the weekend.
She nods at the fish. The absurdity of the suggestion
amuses her. At the same time she doesn't really know how
EVA: Well, how...
The schoolteacher holds up the fish, laughs, as if he
himself doesn't how he got this idea.
SCHOOLTEACHER: I don't know either.
Unfortunately, I have nothing to wrap them in.
The both laugh. Pause. Then the girl points at the bag
on the baggage carrier of her bicycle and says
EVA: Neither have I. Unfortunately.
The schoolteacher has a new "idea ":
SCHOOLTEACHER ("amused"): I could give you some
fishing line, to tie them up.
EVA (equally amused): There on the bicycle?!
The schoolteacher shrugs his shoulders with a smile
EVA: I don't think that's a very good idea.
SCHOOLTEACHER: You're right. It was just an
Embarrassed pause. Then
SCHOOLTEACHER: Is that your bicycle?
EVA ("What an idea!"): No! It belongs to the
SCHOOLTEACHER: I see.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Is this your first day off?
EVA (rather suspicious because all this is too
intimate for her): Yes.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Well, you're probably looking
forward to being at home.
EVA: Yes, I am.
SCHOOLTEACHER: I can imagine.
EVA says (putting the pedals and handlebar in a
"ready to leave" position): Well. I've still a
long way to go.
SCHOOLTEACHER (stepping back): Of course. Well,
She's about to ride off.
SCHOOLTEACHER (with a smile): If you cycle
through Grundbach and see my father, at least
say hello to him from me.
EVA: I don't know your father.
SCHOOLTEACHER: That's true.
They look at each other for a while and then Eva rides
off. The CAMERA FOLLOWS her. Eva and the bicycle are
tottering a bit. The girl looks around and shouts,
EVA: I only learned to ride a bicycle today!
SCHOOLTEACHER (now o.s., also shouting): Well,
you're doing fine! But be careful!
As she picks up speed, Eva rides better and soon
is just a speck on the dusty country road.
13. THE DOCTOR'S HOUSE INT/DUSK
It's still too early to switch on the light.
Xenia and little Rudolph are sitting in the kitchen,
eating. For quite a while. Suddenly
RUDOLPH: The woman today. What was wrong with
XENIA (eating): Which woman? Oh, I see. She was
RUDOLPH: What's that?
Xenia looks up from her meal.
XENIA: What's dead? My God, that's when someone
doesn't live anymore. When he's stopped living.
RUDOLPH: When does one stop living?
Xenia looks up from her meal again. Now she tries to
talk more seriously to her brother because she
understands that these questions matter to him. But
she's also feeling uneasy and put on.
XENIA: When you're too old or very ill.
RUDOLPH: And the woman?
XENIA: She had an accident.
RUDOLPH: An accident?
XENIA: Yes. That's when you hurt yourself very
RUDOLPH: Like Dad?
XENIA: Yes, but much worse than that. So bad,
that your body can't take it anymore.
Another SILENCE: Then
RUDOLPH: And then you're dead?
XENIA: Yes. But most people don't have an
RUDOLPH: That means they don't need to die?
XENIA: No, they die much later.
XENIA: Later, when they're very old.
RUDOLPH: Do all people die?
RUDOLPH: All of them, really?
XENIA: Yes, everyone dies.
RUDOLPH: But not you, Xeni?
XENIA: Me too. Everyone.
RUDOLPH: But not Dad?
XENIA: Dad too.
RUDOLPH: Me too?
XENIA: You too. But not before a very very long
time. All of us, only in a very long time.
RUDOLPH: And you can't do anything against it?
It has to happen?
XENIA: It has to happen. But not now, not for a
very long time.
Long PAUSE. Then
RUDOLPH: And Mom? She didn't go on a trip?
RUDOLPH: Is she dead too?
XENIA: Yes. She's dead too. But that was a long
Both remain SILENT. In the meantime it has grown dark in
Suddenly, Rudolph brushes away his plate off the table
with an angry movement, and turns away from Xenia. The
plate shatters on the floor.
At first Xenia is stunned, paralyzed. Then she starts to
sob, but tries to hide it from her brother.
14. RECTORY. DINING ROOM. INT/NIGHT
While we hear the SOUNDS of the punishment and the
children being beaten, COUNTING the strokes with
increasing MOANS and stifled WHINING, we see (CLOSE
ANGLES) the faces of the other brothers and sisters.
Some have turned away their faces, and others start to
cry with pity and fear.
Finally both have received their 10 strokes.
CLOSE ANGLE: The pastor. He is breathless and beads of
sweat on his forehead.
He hands Martin the cane. CLOSE ANGLE: Martin.
Here, take the cane and put it back in its
As Martin is about to go, his father goes on:
But first you can thank me for trying to protect
you from any further misconduct.
CLOSE ANGLE: Marie.
You know how much I love you and how much it
hurts me to inflict such pain on you. Today was
a very sad day in my life, and I hope for all of
us that it doesn't happen again.
CLOSE ANGLE: Both kiss their father's hand.
CLOSE ANGLE: The pastor.
PASTOR (smiles): And now hug me. There's nothing
we have to forgive each other anymore. I love
you with all my heart.
He first hugs Marie who, her face still wet with tears,
tries a forced smile and then Martin. Then, the pastor
turns to his wife:
PASTOR: Now the ribbon, Anna.
Anna goes toward the two children, tying a white ribbon
around Martin's upper arm and another in Marie's hair.
PASTOR: This will remain on you until we're all
sure you have learned how to fight bad thoughts
and manners. You're well aware, this year you
will receive Christ's body in the form of bread
and wine. Until then, strive to be free of
sinful thoughts. Now let's eat.
Martin carries the cane out of the room. The pastor and
the other children sit around the table. Marie leaves
the room with her mother. After all the others have sat
down and put their plates back where they were before
the punishment, the two come back with two soup bowls
and put them on the table. Martin has also come back and
sits down at his place beside his father.
The pastor folds his hands in prayer, the others follow
PASTOR (very friendly): Marie, would you say
MARIE (smiling eagerly): With pleasure, father.
She bows her head, so do the others.
MARIE: Come Lord Jesus and be our guest
And bless what you've given to us.
PASTOR: Amen. Blessed be this meal.
THE OTHERS: Blessed be this meal.
The mother and Marie open the soup tureens and hand out
the soup. Then they eat.
15. FARM INT/NIGHT
The body of the farmer's wife has been laid out. The
candles to its left and right are almost burnt out.
Its very quiet.
Little five-year old Sepp sneaks into the room, bare-
foot and wearing a shirt. He hesitates. Then, slowly and
carefully, he comes over to his dead mother. He ends up
standing beside the bed. The face of the dead woman is
covered with a white handkerchief.
Sepp is very frightened. He makes several attempts
before he dares to lift the handkerchief. Then he
watches her, breathless, his eyes and mouth wide open.
Suddenly, startled by a noise, he jerks back. He turns
around: his 14-year old brother Paul is sitting on a
bench against the wall. He too only wears a shirt.
SEPP (surprised, with a whispering voice):
Paul doesn't say a word. Sepp doesn't know what to do.
He looks at his mother again, then again at his brother.
He goes over to him and sits beside him on the bench.
Like birds in a cage, they remain seated in the dark.
Very close together.
16. ESTATE. THE STEWARD'S HOUSE. LIVING ROOM. BEDROOM.
The steward and his children Liesl (15), Georg and
Ferdinand (10)] are waiting for something. Then the door
opens and the midwife comes out. She tells them to come
into the other room.
NARRATOR: That night, the wife of the steward
gave birth to her fourth and last child at the
age of 42.
The children want to follow their father. At least
Liesl, a chubby and good-natured teenager, rather plain,
can't wait to go in. But the midwife tells them to be
patient, and only the father is let through.
LIESL (burning with curiosity): What is it?
MIDWIFE (smiling): Well, what do you think?
LIESL(shakes her head impatiently): I don't
MIDWIFE: It's a boy.
FERDINAND: Oh God!
MIDWIFE: What do you mean?! Don't you want a
MIDWIFE: You're lucky your father can't hear
Instead of the father, Georg hits his brother on the
back of the head. They quarrel.
MIDWIFE: Stop that!
She steps in and distributes a few smacks. Liesl runs
out of the room howling.
MIDWIFE: You should be ashamed.
FERDINAND (Suddenly, as if he'd become another
The midwife looks at him, confused.
17. TRACK NEAR THE FARM EXT/DAWN
The farmer, Franz and Paul leave the farm, they go to
work. The two oldest carry scythes.
In the background vast fields of crops.
The three walk hurriedly. After a while
FRANZ (hesitantly): Father, I have to tell you
FARMER: What is it?
FRANZ: I went to the sawmill.
The farmer keeps on walking as if he hasn't heard. Franz
looks at him from the side. For a long moment he remains
silent, while all three keep walking. Then, Franz goes
The floor, on the first level, where mother
worked, was totally rotten.
They keep on walking.
The steward, who sent her there, must have known
it. And the landowner too.
The farmer remains silent. They keep walking.
FARMER (hostile): What do you want?
FRANZ (doesn't understand his father's refusal):
They sent her there knowing it was dangerous.
The farmer stops, turns to Franz:
FARMER (aggressive): What are you getting at?
FRANZ (doesn't understand): But...
FARMER (furious, but with forced calm): Do you
want me to sue the Baron? Or kill the steward?
FARMER: Go and cut off his head of with your
scythe. Sure, that'll bring your mother back to
He turns away from Franz and keeps on walking. The
others follow. After a few steps
FRANZ (softly): I think our father loved our
Suddenly the farmer stops and screams, almost crying
with fury and despair:
FARMER: Shut up!
CLOSE ANGLE: Paul. He was listening carefully the whole
time. He looks at the father. Then, lowers his eyes.
NARRATOR: After these two days in July, life in
the village returned to what it had always
18. MONTAGE EXT/INS./DAY/NIGHT
a) Harvesting. Even teenagers and children are used to
tie the sheaves and to do other easier jobs.
NARRATOR: ... The daily harvesting drove the
people almost to exhaustion. Most of the
children were busy helping their parents.
b) The midwife is doing housework in the Doctor's house.
A quarrel between her retarded son and the 4-year old
Rudolph (that we barely can follow due to the Narrator's
voice, o.s.) is settled by the midwife in favor of her
For the time being, the doctor remained in the
hospital. In the meantime the midwife catered
the basic needs of Xenia and Rudolph, his two
children. After the burial of the farmer's wife,
that was attended by the whole village, the two
accidents were soon forgotten...
19. MANOR EXT/DAY
NARRATOR: ... until the harvest festival at the
end of the summer brought the whole village
together again, first in a festive hustle and
bustle, and then in horror and perplexity.
The courtyard is full of people, dressed in their Sunday
best: Farmers, seasonal-workers, people from the
village, children and teenagers.
A dance hall has been set up. On it we see the
landowner, the steward and the pastor with their
A couple of younger women, a delegation of the
harvesters, goes over to present the harvest crown to
HARVESTER: ...with our songs and our prayers
We've gathered the rye
and given that crown to your lordship.
It is not big, it is not small,
But pretty, nice and fine.
Not with thistles or thorns is it made,
but with pure grain.
Had our lordship sowed more,
The men would've scythed more
And we girls gathered more.
We girls have gathered the grain,
Over mountains and valleys,
Over thistles and thorn,
Over the fields of our lordship.
I wish our lordship a happy life,
As many years as there's sand on the beach
As many years as there are drops in the rain
So much may our lordship be blessed.
And as a reward to be of good cheer
We'd like for our folks a barrel of beer,
And if we could have a fried goose perchance
Then we'll all be ready to dance.
During the poem, the camera has shown all those we have
met until now. They have all ( except for the Doctor,
the farmer and his two eldest sons) come to the feast.
While all the folks present LAUGH and SHOUT, the maid,
with a clumsy curtsy, hands over the harvest crown to
the Baron. The village band plays a fanfare.
As soon as the hullabaloo has died down
BARON(answering): My thanks to all of you. Thank
you very much. You have worked well and the
heavens were merciful, and now the barns are
Therefore there's more than enough beer, and you
won't starve today.
He points to the open barn, where food and beer are
waiting. In front of the barn are tables with long
BARON: Enjoy your meal!! Eat and drink as much
as you wish. You deserve it.
Again the people YELL and CHEER. Then, the MUSIC starts
and the feast is off and running.
20. VEGETABLE GARDEN OF THE MANOR EXT/DAY
The vegetable garden is at the back of the manor house.
In the distance we hear the MUSIC from the feast.
Franz, in working clothes, comes over, opens a gate in
the fence, then goes to a large field with the cabbages
and slices them all off with his scythe. The whole scene
looks like a mass execution.
21. ESTATE EXT/DAY
The party is in full swing: people dance and shout,
children run around, young men quarrel and show off in
front of the young girls. Older women are stand around
in groups, gossiping. Some farmers are gathered around
the landowner he is friendly with them, but we don't
understand what they're talking about.
His wife, with her nervous frailty, looks out of place
in this crowd. She's talking to the schoolteacher.
BEATRIX: ...didn't you promise us a little
chorale sung by your protégés.
SCHOOLTEACHER: You have to talk to the pastor,
Baroness. We're still busy studying the choir
pieces for the confirmation feast.
BEATRIX (amused): But that's in spring, my dear.
This is the start of autumn.
SCHOOLTEACHER (smiles, embarrassed): I know, but
unfortunately not all of our little singers are
very musical. I'm sorry if...
22. ESTATE. UNDER THE LIME TREE . EXT/DAY
A quieter part of the estate.
Under a big shadowy tree, we see the two strollers of
the landowner's family, a small table and a few chairs.
Eva is sitting beside the twins and watches the colorful
bustle. Sitting beside her, turning her back to the
manor, is Emma, the steward's wife who is breastfeeding
The steward separates from a group of men and comes over
to the two women. As he comes over, he shouts to them:
STEWARD: Well, you two "mothers"? Don't you want
to be part of the festivities?
Eva looks at the steward's wife, not knowing, how to
react to the "mother joke". But the slightly naive wife
of the steward is basically fond of any jokes her
husband cracks. She turns halfway to him and says:
EMMA: It's so nice here in the shade.
In the meantime the steward has come over. He's smoking
STEWARD (in excellent mood): Well, our son seems
to be enjoying that, right?!
STEWARD: I can imagine. Who wouldn't like that.
EMMA (rebuking him gently): Georg!
STEWARD (to Eva): What about you? Don't you get
bored taking care of other people's children,
with all the young lads over there?
EVA (uneasy, with forced sweetness): No Sir, I
love to be with the children.
He gives his wife a short glance, then sits on a chair
How old are you anyway?
EVA: Eighteen, Sir.
STEWARD: Eighteen! And you want me to believe
you'd rather hold the Baroness's baby in your
arms than your true love?
EMMA (good-naturedly): Come on, Georg, leave her
STEWARD: I'm not doing her any harm. Can you get
us something to eat, Emma?
EVA (stands up, to Emma): If you mind the
children for a moment, I'll get us something.
STEWARD (stands up too): Don't worry, princess,
I'm going. Not to panic.
23. ESTATE. THE PATH LEADING TO THE VEGETABLE GARDEN.
A bunch of children between 5 and 15, dressed up in
their Sunday best, among them Marie and Martin, both
wearing their white ribbons, the pastor's other
children, Xenia, Rudolph as well as Hans, Liesl, Georg,
Ferdinand and Sigi. They leave the manor and head toward
the fields. As they pass by the vegetable garden, they
notice the sliced off cabbages and stop. Some laugh at
it, others are unsettled. Most of the children keep run
on out into the open fields.
24. ESTATE. OUTSIDE THE BARN. EXT/DAY
Farmhands and tenant farmers are eating at the tables.
One of them tells a story, that we only partially
understand because of all the noise:
FIRST TENANT FARMER: ...so the guy really tried
to steal the rooster from the steeple. He was
already completely pickled, but even then they
couldn't stop him. A huge, massive guy, you see.
So they just let him go, saying to themselves:
if he falls down, he falls down, that's it. But
he didn't get much farther than the first
window, that's where the trellis ends, see. And
even with all his strength, he couldn't hoist
himself up on the lightning rod. So the guy
stands up there in the window. And what do you
think that idiot does: he starts to crow! He
crows, shouting: I'm the rooster on the steeple.
You'll never catch me! He made such a commotion
that little by little the people in the
neighborhood started to wake up...
At the same time someone else starts to shout, causing
the others to join in:
FARMHANDS and FARMERS:
More beer, more beer, or I'll fall down, hurray!
More beer, more beer, or I'll fall down.
Has the landlord hung himself,
that he doesn't serve me any beer?
More beer, more beer, or I'll fall down!
Laughter. Leni, Franz's sister, and another farmgirl do
their best to cater to the drinker's thirst as fast as
possible. The two young women try to keep their spirits
up, but the guest's indelicate jokes and rude gestures
don't make it easy.
LENI: I'm coming. I haven't got a magic wand.
FIRST FARMHAND (with a grin): Shall I help you,
Leni? I'd love to help you.
SECOND FARMHAND (also grinning): What do you
want to help her with?!
FIRST FARMHAND: All over. Front and backside.
THIRD FARMHAND (to Leni): Are you as slow with
SECOND TENANT FARMER: Come on, leave her alone
SECOND FARMHAND: You like her that much? Go and
FOURTH FARMHAND (sitting beside the second,
almost in a whisper): Don't you know: it was her
mother who had that accident?...
At the same time a boy of ten comes over to the first
farmer and butts in to his story:
BOY: Father, they cut off the Baron's cabbages.
FIRST TENANT FARMER: What's that?
BOY (grin): They cut off the Baron's cabbages.
Leni, who's just putting some glasses with beer on the
table, glares at the boy, flabbergasted.
25. ESTATE. DANCE FLOOR. EXT/DAY
On the dance floor, Eva and the schoolteacher try to
dance. Neither is very talented. Eva keeps looking at
her feet and smiles, embarrassed.
EVA: I never learned it.
SCHOOLTEACHER (also with a smile): Neither did
I. You just have to count out loud. One. Two.
Three. One. Two. Three. One...
Their steps are far too big. They look clumsy and
embarrassed, but happy. After a few spins
EVA: Aren't you afraid your students might laugh
at you, when they see you dancing with me that
SCHOOLTEACHER (laughs): They'd better not! And
stop being so formal with me. I'm not that old,
Eva laughs, embarrassed and looks down.
EVA: One. Two. Three. One. Two. Three. One. Two.
Three. One. Two. Three.
SCHOOLTEACHER: You see: we're getting better.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Stop looking at your feet.
She lifts her head, looks at him and... stumbles. They
laugh and start again.
26. VEGETABLE GARDEN EXT/DAY
MUSIC of the village band can be heard coming from the
The Baroness reaches the vegetable garden, followed by
the pastor's wife, the tutor and some "ladies" from the
village. Behind the fence, among the "beheaded" cabbages
are the Baron, the steward and some farmers. A couple of
curious onlookers have gathered by the fence. Mutters,
and now and then laughter.
The Baron turns to his wife and, with a snicker, points
to the "heads" lying around him.
BARON: Quite a job, isn't it?!
The Baroness looks at the extent of the disaster. Then
BARONESS: This is disgusting.
The steward comes over to them and, with a little grin,
comments on the sensitivity of his masters:
STEWARD: It used to be an old custom (he
"Now that the harvesting's done,
"It's time to pay us, every one,
"Any miser who leaves us in a rut,
"He shall have his cabbage cut.
The Baroness, who doesn't think the symbolic character
of the deed is funny at all, looks briefly at him and
then back again at the cabbage cemetery. Suddenly, she
turns away and leaves the scene headed toward the manor.
She makes her way through the bystanders, who step aside
to let her through.
27. RECTORY. STUDY. INT/DUSK
The pastor works at his desk. Suddenly a KNOCK on the
PASTOR (looking up): Come in
Florian comes hesitantly through the door.
PASTOR: What do you want?
FLORIAN (shy, almost frightened): I'd like to
ask you something, Father.
The boy comes over to the desk, opens a few buttons of
his shirt and then seizes something inside. In the open
shirt we see the head of a little bird.
PASTOR: So what?
FLORIAN: I have found it. It's wounded.
PASTOR: What do you want?
FLORIAN (pleadingly): May I keep it?
Short pause. The pastor is moved by the request of his
youngest son, but manages to hide his emotion
PASTOR: How do you plan to do that?
FLORIAN: We'll heal it.
PASTOR (softly): And when it's healed?
Florian looks at him with round eyes, he doesn't know
what to answer. The pastor continues:
Don't you think, you'll be attached to it then?
Will you let it fly away?
Florian thinks, then nods toward a cage behind the desk.
FLORIAN: "Pipsi" also lives in a cage.
The pastor looks at the cage shortly, hides a smile and
turns to Florian again:
PASTOR: Yes, but Pipsi grew up in captivity.
(nodding at Florian's bird): This one is used to
living in freedom.
Florian doesn't know what to answer. So he merely looks
at his father with pleading eyes.
PASTOR (repeats): Will you set him free, as soon
Florian, looks down and nods with a heavy heart.
PASTOR: Have you already asked Mother?
Florian nods eagerly.
PASTOR: And? What did she say?
FLORIAN: She said, it was for Father to decide.
PASTOR (smiling faintly): That's what she said?
Florian nods eagerly and looks at his father with eyes
that are pleading with expectation.
PASTOR: You'll really to take care of it? That's
a heavy responsibility. You know that, don't
Sensing that his father is not quite against it, Florian
PASTOR: Well. You're its father and mother now.
Florian nods yet more eagerly, if that's possible. The
pastor finds it difficult not to smile:
We'll have to find a cage for your patient.
Florian can hardly believe it. He'd like to fling his
arms around his father's neck, but doesn't dare. So he
just keeps standing there, beaming.
FLORIAN: Thanks, Father!
28. TRACK TO THE FARM EXT/DUSK
Leni comes along the track, excited. She`s almost
running. She reaches the farm and disappears inside.
29. FARM. ROOM. INT/DUSK
The family is eating. They're in working clothes, since
they didn't attend the Thanksgiving feast. Only Leni,
who visibly just came into the room, is still wearing
the clothes she wore at the feast. She's out of breath
and very excited. The farmer looks very concerned.
FARMER (to Franz): Is that true?
FRANZ (hostile, keeps on eating): I don't know
FARMER (threatening): Is that - true?!
FRANZ (looks at him, aggressively): Nothing is
true! And even if it was true, so what?! Serves
him right, that miser!
FARMER (trying to control himself): Did you do
it, or did you not do it?
Franz doesn't answer and keeps on eating.
LENI: It seems somebody saw you.
For a moment Franz remains calm, then he bursts out:
FRANZ (to Leni): So what? They should be glad
that they still have their own heads.(to the
farmer) And I want you to know this, Father: I'm
proud of it!
The father responds to this by slapping his face hard.
Franz jumps up.
FARMER (orders Franz without looking at him):
For a moment, we don't know how Franz will behave.
Sitting on the corner bench, he's jammed between his
father and his brothers and sisters, who stare at the
table, embarrassed. Only Paul, who sits opposite his
brother, looks up at him.
Franz finally sits down again. SILENCE. The farmer
stares at his plate, tries to speak softly, which is
obviously difficult for him, to judge by the sound of
FARMER: What did you intend to do?
As Franz doesn't answer, he looks up, right into Franz's
face, who avoids his father's eyes.
FARMER: Tell me.
Franz keeps on glaring straight ahead. The farmer adopts
a gentler tone.
Come on. Tell me:
FRANZ (who can hardly speak): You know why,
FARMER (after a pause): Because of your mother?
Because you feel they're responsible for her
death? Is that it? What do you think? That I'm
not man enough to settle this? It's that what
Franz keeps on glaring, remaining silent. The father
tries to stay calm, staring straight ahead. He takes a
spoon and eats twice from the milk soup. He puts down
the spoon, and looks at Franz again.
Did you ever think of what your behavior can
mean for the whole family? If Leni loses her
job, which enables us to keep our heads above
water for the whole year? What if we can't work
there anymore during the summer?
Franz makes an impatient movement, takes raises his
spoon and wants to go on eating. The farmer grabs his
arm and slams it down. The two stare at each other. For
a moment, we don't know what will happen. Then the
farmer goes on:
You want to marry and take over the farm in two
years? Yes? And how will you feed them all (he
points with his head at the other children)
without the help of the manor, tell me?
Franz turns his head away. He disagrees, but does not
know what to answer. The farmer goes on:
And how do you know they're responsible?
Franz turns to him abruptly:
FRANZ: And how do you know they're innocent?
The farmer looks at Franz with round eyes. A long PAUSE
follows. Then the
FARMER says (quietly): I don't know.
And after another PAUSE.
FARMER: But I don't know the opposite either.
30. MANOR. STAIRWELL. INT/NIGHT
The Baron stands at the bottom and shouts up at the
tutor who's standing on the stairs:
BARON:...What do you mean "not there"?
TUTOR (sheepish): He... disappeared. I`ve
already looked everywhere. I can't find him.
BARON: Nonsense. He can't have vanished into
thin air. When did you see him last?
TUTOR (as above): Around 2 o'clock.
BARON (his anger mounting): Around two? Do you
know what time it is?!
TUTOR (guiltily): I know, Sir.
Furious, the landowner turns away from the nincompoop,
pensive. Then he turns to the TUTOR again:
BARON: What does my wife say, doesn't she have
TUTOR: Madame sent me to you, Baron. She is
beside herself with fear.
BARON (wryly): I can imagine.(looks up to the
tutor): You're an idiot, Huber. Why do you think
you're here? To take care of a single child! Is
that such a hard task?
TUTOR (softly): I'm awfully sorry, Baron.
BARON: You're even too stupid for that.
The Baron turns away and heads for the door. Then he
turns around again and asks:
BARON: Where did you see my son for the last
TUTOR: Outside, in the courtyard. He said, he
was going to play with the other children.
TUTOR: That he didn't say.
BARON: And my wife didn't notice anything
TUTOR: After that business with the cabbage
heads, Madame retired to her room. She was
BARON (sarcastically): Indisposed?!
TUTOR: Yes. She had a terrible migraine attack.
BARON (almost to himself): My God, this place is
He turns away and goes out into the courtyard. The tutor
follow him with his eyes. He feels he's being badly
treated and hates the Baron for his insults. Finally he
goes back up the stairs.
31. MANOR. EXT/NIGHT
BACK TO THE SCENE.
The torches of the feast have almost burned out. Here
and there we see some lanterns, put there to facilitate
the cleaning up.
Coming from the front door, the Baron crosses the vast
courtyard. Half way across he screams:
The steward is overseeing a dozen farmhands, who are
putting the tables and the benches of the feast back the
barn. He walks toward the Baron.
BARON. Have you seen my son?
STEWARD (surprised): No.
BARON (quietly): Could you please ask your boys.
Apparently, Sigi has disappeared with a whole
bunch of kids.
STEWARD: Immediately. (shouting to the
farmhands): When you're finished with the
cleaning up, wait for me. There's still a job to
do. Get some fresh torches and lanterns!
BARON: In the meantime I'll go round up the men.
The steward goes to his house, the Baron to the
outbuildings. There, he switches on the SIREN.
NARRATOR: The steward's children said, they had
seen Sigi only for a short time, that he had
gone off with other kids, and that they didn't
pay much attention to it...
32. MONTAGE EXT/INT/NIGHT
IN THE COURTYARD.
Many men of different ages with lanterns and torches.
The Baron makes a short speech and the steward assigns
the areas to be searched. Most of this is drowned out by
the narrator's voice.
NARRATOR: ...The search began shortly after
midnight. Before, the Baron had ridden to the
Rectory. But there he found out nothing new from
the children who had been specially woken up.
STABLE AND OUTBUILDINGS OF THE ESTATE.
VARIOUS LANDSCAPES: FOREST, FIELD, RIVER MEADOWS.
The searchers, who were tired and some of whom
were still drunk, were divided into two groups:
one group started to search all the buildings on
the estate, one by one, while the others combed
the surrounding areas.
It was around half past two, when some members
of the search party had already preferred to lie
down somewhere and to sleep off their
drunkenness, that the siren suddenly sounded
again, calling the men back to the courtyard...
IN THE COURTYARD.
The men come in with a stretcher.
...They had found Sigi. He had been tied up in
the old sawmill, upside down. His trousers had
been pulled down and his buttocks were bleeding
from cane strokes. He seemed to be in a state of
shock, was unable to walk and had to be brought
back to the manor on a makeshift stretcher,
lying on his belly.
33. CHURCH INT/DAY
The room is packed. The whole village is gathered.
NARRATOR: The next Sunday, the Baron, at the end
of the service, asked the pastor if he could say
a few words:
BARON: You all know now what was done to my son
Siegmund. Policemen from the district town were
here this week. They questioned many of you. But
to no avail. First I thought that the people who
tortured my child were the same people who cut
off my family's "cabbage heads"...
Unrest in the attendance.
...because they wanted to "get even". Get even
for what? Because their mother had died while
she was working in the sawmill, and it was
supposedly my fault, which is an absurd
The farmer, Leni and the other children are there, with
the exception of Franz.
The unrest grows.
At least, that's what Franz Felder gave as the
motive for his "mowing prowess", when the
policemen arrested him. I have always supported
the farmer Felder and his family, but one can't
always expect people to be grateful. That's a
matter of character.
The farmer wants to leave the church.
BARON: Don't run away, Felder. It's your honor I
want to salvage.
It has turned out that the valiant Franz Felder
has been boasting of his feat in front of his
fiancée. Then the coward that he is, hid among
his family, and so he didn't have time to
torture my son. And there's one thing I know for
sure: the senior Felder would rather bite off
his tongue, than cover for his wayward son. May
I remind you something what most of you have
already forgotten. Almost two months ago, the
doctor had a riding accident and he has still
not returned from the hospital. This accident
was caused by a wire that had been strung in his
garden with the explicit intent of bringing him
down. And in that case too, nobody knows
anything, saw anything or heard anything.
Disconcerted MUTTER among the attendance.
We all know that the people responsible for the
terrible injuries suffered by my son, and those
suffered by the doctor are sitting here among
us, in this room. I won't tolerate that crimes
of this nature go unpunished. I don't wish
something similar to happen to any of your
children. That's why I call upon you all to help
me find the culprit or the culprits. Ask
questions, keep your ears open, be watchful. If
we fail to find out the truth, the peace within
our community will be gone. Thank you, pastor.
The pastor says a few last words which we don't grasp,
that the narrator's voice drowns out. The people file
out of the church, quietly and slowly, but talking
worriedly to each other.
NARRATOR: The landowner's speech frightened the
people. Most knew about the incident at the
Thanksgiving feast. But the majority didn't know
exactly what had happened, and in the end they
didn't care. The Baron was not really popular
among the people, but he was respected as a
powerful social figure, as well as the employer
of nearly the whole village.
34. IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH EXT/DAY
BACK TO THE SCENE.
The people are leaving the church, groups are forming.
As the farmer Felder and his children come out, they're
Gauntlet down the village street. The CAMERA follows.
NARRATOR: ...His threat about loosing the peace
of the community couldn't mean anything good.
At the same time the mysterious character of
what were obviously criminal deeds fed the
mistrust of the farmers, deeply rooted since
35. SCHOOL. INT/NIGHT
The empty classroom. On the harmonium: a petroleum lamp.
The schoolteacher is PLAYING.
After a while, someone knocks at the door. The
SCHOOLTEACHER (surprised): Come in!
The door opens hesitantly. In the dark: Eva (hardly
recognizable because she's so far from the lamp).
SCHOOLTEACHER (surprised and glad): Eva!
EVA (hardly understandable): May I come in?
The Schoolteacher stands up, goes toward and, laughing
with surprise, says to her.
SCHOOLTEACHER: What a question. Of course. Come
in. What happened.
Eva enters the room and closes the door behind her.
She's carrying a suitcase. Shyly she looks around and
doesn't say a word.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Come over here. It's so dark.
He moves toward the lamp and waits half-way because she
SCHOOLTEACHER: What's going on?
EVA: They fired me.
SCHOOLTEACHER (startled): What do you mean?
She shrugs her shoulders.
EVA: Nothing. They just threw me out (pause,
then) The tutor has also been fired.
Suddenly, in the middle of a sentence, she bursts into
floods of tears. At the same time she turns away from
the schoolteacher. He goes over to her, and stops in
front of her, but is too shy to touch her. Suddenly she
turns to him again and says, sobbing:
I don't know where to go. I can't go back home
in the middle of the night. I'm afraid to walk
on the road all alone.
SCHOOLTEACHER (calming her down): Don't worry.
Try to calm down. There's nothing to worry
EVA (sobbing, childish): There is.
SCHOOLTEACHER (with a calming smile): Come here
and sit down. Please calm down and then tell me
what happened. All right?
She's sits down on the school bench beside her. The
schoolteacher sits on his haunches in front of her:
It takes her time to calm down.
Slowly she manages to calm down, breathes deeply a few
times. The schoolteacher is visibly charmed by her
EVA: The son of the Baron isn't at all well. His
parents are angry and desperate. Now they say
that it's the tutor's and my fault, because we
didn't pay enough attention to him. But I'm only
there for the twins.
She starts to sob again:
I've always taken care of them very well. When
you and I were dancing, the Baroness had given
me permission. I haven't done anything wrong,
SCHOOLTEACHER: I know, come on. Stop crying!
EVA: Where shall I go now? We need the money I
was earning here.
SCHOOLTEACHER: You'll find something else.
Besides, you know very well that the Baron is
quick-tempered. With him, nothing is ever as bad
as it seems.
EVA (fiercely shaking her head):No, no, that's
all over now, I know it. The Baroness doesn't
want to see anyone. She wants to take the
children with her to town or to her parent's
estate I don't know exactly.
SCHOOLTEACHER: (after a pause): I'll try to talk
to her. A while back, we played music together.
(with a smile): Unfortunately, I wasn't very
good. Now she's got the tutor, he plays better.
As far as I know, he's been studying music in
EVA (forgetting her grief a bit): He doesn't
play that well.
SCHOOLTEACHER: That's true.
EVA (after a pause, serious again): Who could
have done such things?
EVA: To beat a child that way.
SCHOOLTEACHER: I don't know.
Long PAUSE. Then she says softly:
EVA: Can I stay here tonight? Don't send me
away, sir, please.
SCHOOLTEACHER: How can you think something like
EVA: I'll just wait for the daylight to come.
Here in the classroom. Then I'll leave.
Suddenly she starts to cry again:
They won't understand this, at home. They'll
think I did something wrong.
PAUSE. Then the
SCHOOLTEACHER: Do you want me to come with you.
She stops crying and looks at him, surprised.
EVA: What did you say?
SCHOOLTEACHER (cheerful): Tomorrow, after
school? I can try to find us a carriage. I'll be
back by evening.
EVA: And why should you do that, Sir.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Stop being so formal.
EVA (after a break): Why should you do this?
PAUSE. Then the schoolteacher stands up and says:
SCHOOLTEACHER: Come here, I'll play something
for you. If you'd like that.
She thinks for a moment, then she nods eagerly. She
follows him, as he goes and settles in front of the
harmonium. She sits on a bench nearby. He starts to
36. FARM. PIGSTY. INT/EXT/DAY
The farmer and Paul are cleaning the pigsty which is not
very big. The pigs grunt excitedly because of the
Suddenly, Franz enters.
FRANZ: Good morning, Father.
The farmer looks up, keeps on working as if nobody had
Paul greets Franz with a nod, remaining silent.
After a while, they've done their work. Ignoring Franz,
the farmer goes outside.
Franz, who has stepped aside to let his father by, says
to him as he goes out:
FRANZ: I'm back again. They set me free.
At this, the farmer stops and turns around. He looks
Franz right into the eyes:
FARMER: I can see that. So what?
Franz bows his head. Paul, who has followed his father,
out of the pigsty, glances surreptitiously at his
brother. The farmer goes over to the fountain and washes
himself. Franz follows him slowly and stops beside his
father, who keeps ignoring him. After a while
FRANZ says (softly): Can't you forgive me,
The farmer stops washing and turns to Franz:
FARMER: What do you want me to forgive for? That
the estate won't give me any work now? That Leni
has been fired in disgrace? That your brothers
and sisters soon won't have anything to eat. Is
that what you mean? Or is it something else?
37. COUNTRY ROAD AND DOCTOR'S PROPERTY EXT/DAY
The CAMERA follows the carriage in which are Eva and the
NARRATOR: The next day, after school, I went to
the estate to inquire about Sigi's health and to
intercede for Eva's reinstatement. We were told
the Baroness had left that morning with her
children. Reluctantly, the steward lent me a
carriage to take Eva home.
An open carriage with the Doctor inside comes from the
opposite direction. The passengers of the two carriages
greet each other. The CAMERA follows the Doctor and
looses Eva and the schoolteacher.
The doctor has one arm in a sling.
The Doctor's carriage ends up turning into his property.
The driver helps the doctor get out. Xenia comes running
out of the house and greets her father. The driver
unloads the luggage. The doctor and Xenia go into the
Just as we were leaving the village, we met the
A few days after the Thanksgiving feast,
Rudolph, his four year old son, had suddenly
disappeared. Of course, everybody was terribly
upset in view of all the previous occurrences.
Finally, he was found walking down the road,
scantily dressed for a trip, headed eagerly
toward the town. When he was asked where he was
going, he said he wanted to visit his father.
Seems he fought tooth and nail against being
Somebody must have told this to the Doctor.
Since he was scheduled to be released from
medical care anyway, he had prematurely put an
end to his stay at the hospital.
38. THE DOCTOR'S HOUSE INT/DAY
BACK TO THE SCENE.
DOCTOR (calls several times): Rudi?
He throws an ironical inquiring look at Xenia. Xenia
shrugs her shoulders, clueless:
XENIA: He was in the living room a short time
Just as they're about to go to the living room, the
driver comes in with the luggage. The Doctor thanks him
and pays him. The driver leaves. Xenia has been waiting
in the doorway. Now they go together into the
There's nobody. They go into the kitchen
KITCHEN. Nobody. The look under the kitchen table, in
the pantry. Nobody.
DOCTOR: Rudi? Where are you?
STAIRWELL. The doctor doesn't know whether to be angry
or to laugh about the whole matter. He goes to his
wardrobe to take his off his jacket. Because of the
sling, Xenia has to help him. That's when she notices
the toilet. She tells her father with a smile. As Xenia
hangs up the doctor's jacket, he goes to the toilet door
and tries to open it. It's locked. The Doctor stops in
front of it.
DOCTOR (quiet): Hello, Rudi. Don't you want to
say hello to your father? No?
I heard you even wanted to visit me at the
hospital. And now you lock yourself in?
PAUSE. The doctor looks shortly at Xenia who's carrying
the luggage upstairs. Then he keeps on talking to
All right. Then, I don't want to see you either.
I'm going away now. You can stay in the toilet,
if you want.
He goes down the few steps to the entrance, waits a
moment and then leaves the house.
39. PROPERTY THE DOCTOR'S EXT/DAY
BACK TO THE scene.
The doctor steps out of the door, and wanders through
the garden. He goes over to the trees, where the wire
had been strung. He examines the traces of the wire on
the bark. He lights a cigar, then looks out at the mowed
After a while Xenia comes over to him. He glances at
her, then again at the fields. Both remain silent. After
XENIA says: Everything is ready in your
practice. Mrs. Wagner prepared everything
DOCTOR: Why do you tell me that?
Xenia looks at him, surprised, shrugs her shoulders.
XENIA: I don't know. I just thought you might
want to know.
DOCTOR: Has she taken good care of you?
PAUSE. The doctor turns to Xenia:
DOCTOR: How old are you now?
The doctor looks at her, laughs silently and shakes his
head. Again he looks out on the fields. After a while he
DOCTOR: It's amazing how much you look like your
Xenia remains silent. Suddenly she whispers:
The doctor turns to her. She nods toward the house. The
doctor follows her look. Indeed Rudolph, who from here
looks even smaller than he really is, has stepped
gingerly out of the door. Unsure and undecided, torn
between defiance and longing, he's kept one hand on the
door handle that he can barely reach.
40. RECTORY. STUDY. INT/NIGHT
The pastor cleans the cage of the small bird behind the
desk and feeds the animal. As he does it, he talks to
Martin, who, the white ribbon still tied around his
upper arm, stands in front of the desk.
PASTOR: Your mother and I are deeply worried
about you. Think about it. Are you sleeping
badly? Are you overtired?
MARTIN (as if he didn't understand the
PASTOR: Do you have problems in school that I
MARTIN (as above): No, Father.
The pastor turns shortly around to his son, looks at
him, then turns again to the bird.
PASTOR: You probably don't understand why we
worry. It comes from a sad experience I want to
tell you briefly about:
As you know, I'm also acting as pastor for the
communities of Birkenbrunn and Hebern. In the
latter place, some years ago, a mother came to
see me. She had noticed that her son, who was
about the same age as you, and had the same
symptoms that you've been showing for some time.
Although until then the boy had been healthy and
active, suddenly he showed a noticeable
weariness, he had dark rings under the eyes,
seemed depressed and joyless. The boy had also
changed emotionally: before he had been funny,
frank, almost naughty, but now he became
withdrawn. He tried not to look his parents in
the eye, and was caught telling small and even
The pastor has finished the cleaning and feeding, and
now sits down behind his desk, Martin opposite him:
That lasted approximately half a year. Then
everything went very fast: he lost his appetite,
couldn't sleep any more, his whole face took on
the brownish color of the rings under his eyes,
his hands began to shake, his memory stated to
fail him, he was covered with numerous small
pustules, first on his face, then on his whole
body and finally he died. The body, which I
blessed, looked like the body of an old man.
The pastor watches Martin:
PASTOR: Do you understand now why I'm worried?
Martin reacts with a timid nod of his head.
PASTOR: So, according to you: what caused these
changes that led to the miserable end of this
MARTIN (hardly able to speak): I don't know.
PASTOR: I think you know well.
Martin doesn't know what to say, he looks down. The
pastor watches him for a long moment, then he gets up,
walks around the desk and sits down on its edge, in
front of the boy, so that their heads are facing each
Won't you tell me? No?
Then I'll tell you what the cause was: The boy
had learned from someone, who had harmed the
finest nerves of his body, in the area where
God's will has erected sacred barriers. The boy
imitated this action. He couldn't stop doing it,
so that at the end he destroyed all the nerves
in his body, and so much that he died of it.
Martin seems very affected. He has bowed his head,
swallows several times, and hardly dares to breath.
Look at me, Martin.
Martin looks up fearfully, then immediately looks away
I just want to help you. I love you with all my
heart. Look at me.
Martin looks his father in the eyes.
Be sincere, Martin. Why did you blush and become
so nervous when I told you the story of the poor
MARTIN: Blushed? I don't know... I felt sorry
PASTOR: Is that all?
No, Martin, there has to be another reason. It's
written on your face.
Be sincere, Martin. Sincerity brings you closer
to God, our beloved Father, and to all human
MARTIN (starts to cry): Oh, my God!
He cries in a such pitiful way that even the pastor has
tears in his eyes. He embraces the boy. The latter
seizes the hand of his father and kisses it intensely.
PASTOR: Well, Martin, why are you crying? Shall
I spare you that confession? You too have done
what that wretched boy did, haven't you?
MARTIN (crying): Oh my God! Yes.
THE SCREEN GOES BLACK.
41. THE MIDWIFE'S HOUSE. LIVING ROOM. INT/NIGHT
Intercourse between the midwife and the doctor. She
holds on to the sideboard, as he penetrates her from
behind. Both are fully dressed, she has just lifted her
When he is ready, she turns around and puts her arms
around him. He lets her do it, with a patronizing smile
and pulls gently away from her.
DOCTOR: Careful, my arm.
She tries to hide her frustration, sits down again with
him at the table, on which are the leftovers of their
meal. With a little ironic smile, the doctor raises his
glass to her. She takes her glass and clinks it with
his. She drinks. An embarrassed silence follows.
Finally, she says
MIDWIFE: It's great that you're back. It was
DOCTOR: You can say that. Yes.
MIDWIFE: It was difficult with the children,
DOCTOR: I know.
MIDWIFE: He doesn't like me.
DOCTOR (after a pause): He's at a difficult age.
MIDWIFE: Actually not.
They're always at a difficult age.
DOCTOR (more to himself, with a faint smile):
MIDWIFE: You didn't miss me.
DOCTOR: Come on. What are you saying?!
MIDWIFE: Nothing. I said it because it's the
DOCTOR: There's nothing like a nice dose of
DOCTOR: Nothing. Forget it.
After a pause, she reaches over the table, takes his
hand, puts her cheek against it. He lets her do it, then
takes his hand from under her head and strokes her hair.
42. CHURCH EXT/DAY
It's snowing. From the inside of the church, we hear the
CHILDREN (singing in harmony):
...us free from all misery,
That has hit us now.
That old evil enemy,
Is serious about it,
Great power and much deceit
Are his cruel armor,
No one on earth resembles him...*
NARRATOR: Winter came early that year. At the
Reformation feast on the first Sunday of
November, a deep blanket of snow covered the
The Baron, who had come back without his family,
didn't attend, which was very unusual for him...
43. CHURCH INT/DAY
IMMEDIATE BACK TO THE scene.
The community celebrates the Reformation Feast.
The schoolteacher conducts the children's choir. The
children sing enthusiastically. Marie and Martin wear
the white ribbon on their arm.
NARRATOR: ...The villagers took that as a sign
of his anger. Indeed, no evidence had been found
as to the possible author of the crime, although
the Baron's appeal had led to a flood of mutual
suspicions, even to some attempts of
denunciation that had all turned out to be
44. THE STEWARD'S HOUSE. INT/NIGHT
The doctor examines the steward's baby that is crying.
Finally, he turns to the parents.
DOCTOR: Well, it's not pneumonia. But you must
be careful. If his temperature rises, call me
again. For the time being you must give these
drops every two hours. And hang some wet sheets
over the oven. That facilitates breathing.
While the mother puts the child back in the cradle, the
doctor and the father go down the STAIRWAY to the LIVING
How long has the window been open?
STEWARD: Difficult to say. My wife nursed him at
about one o'clock. When she came back, it was
around half past two. At that time it was icy
cold in this room.
DOCTOR: And the baby didn't cry?
STEWARD: No. The children were upstairs and
didn't hear anything either.
They have reached the living room where Liesl, Georg and
Ferdinand get up as he comes in.
DOCTOR (to the children): He's doing all right,
considering the circumstances. We have to wait.
The children seem worried. To calm them the doctor adds:
For now we'll have to wait.
The steward has gone to the sideboard.
STEWARD: Can I offer you something to warm you
DOCTOR: No, thanks. I'm overloaded with work.
When one has been away for so long...
At a sign of the father, Georg jumps up and gets the
doctor's coat and hat from outside. In the meantime, the
father keeps on chatting with the doctor:
And how is your arm doing?
DOCTOR: It's all right. Everything will be fine
in two or three weeks.
STEWARD: That must be terrible, I imagine. You
probably feel like half a man when you can't use
your arm properly.
Georg has come back with the hat and the coat, and hands
them to the doctor,
DOCTOR: Thank you.
The steward helps him with his coat because of his bad
DOCTOR (laughs): Quod erat demonstrandum. Thank
you. Well, good night, children.
CHILDREN: Good night, Doctor.
DOCTOR (to the steward who holds the door open):
Thank you. If your wife thinks that the baby...
The steward closes the door to the stairwell, so that we
can't grasp the rest of their conversation.
The children are alone. They remain silent. Then
GEORG: What do you mean "well"?
FERDINAND ("dumb question, it's obvious"): I
mean! That's fine.
LIESL (to Ferdinand): When did you go down to
see Father? Down in his office.
LIESL: Just asking.
45. SNOW-COVERED COUNTRY ROAD EXT/DAY
The schoolteacher, a rucksack on his back, walks through
the snow which is only furrowed by some carriage tracks.
NARRATOR: In mid-December, I finally got a
letter from Eva. Her father had found her a new
job in the district capital, which she would
start at the beginning of the New Year.
Since that night, where she had come looking for
shelter in the school and we had tried to tell
each other the story of our short lives until
the wee hours of the morning, I could no longer
banish from my thoughts her pale face, her shy
but frank personality and her shining hair red.
The school holidays lasted until the morning
after New Year's Day, but already the second day
after Christmas the weather was cold but sunny
I went on my way to Obersdorf in order to
visit Eva and her parents.
46. THE HORSE-TRADER'S LIVING-ROOM INT/DAY
A lower middle-class room.
The schoolteacher sits in front of Eva and her siblings,
6 children between 14 and 6, mostly red-haired like Eva.
Embarrassed silence. The younger children whisper and
giggle. The conversation is slow. After a long pause
EVA says: And Sigi?
SCHOOLTEACHER: I don't know. The Baroness isn't
EVA: And the Baron?
SCHOOLTEACHER (shrugs): We hardly see him. He
talks to nobody. I don't know. Some say they've
gone to the south. To Italy.
EVA: To Italy? Really.
PAUSE. The children giggle, amused over the
embarrassment of the two people.
The schoolteacher and Eva look at each other, but Eva
soon averts her eyes.
SCHOOLTEACHER: They now want to tear down the
sawmill for good. That's what the steward says.
Because it isn't worthwhile to...
At that moment the door opens and Eva's parents come in.
Obviously, the mother went to fetch the father. She is
plump, in her late forties and only wears a woolen shawl
over her shoulders. The father wears a hat and overcoat.
He's a sturdy man in his early fifties, of peasant
stock. He probably came straight from a tavern, and
appears to be slightly drunk. The schoolteacher, Eva and
the children stand up. The schoolteacher bows deeply:
SCHOOLTEACHER: Good morning.
FATHER: Good morning, young man.
They shake hands.
FATHER: Please be seated. We're not very formal
With a short movement of his hand the father invites him
to sit down.
FATHER (to the children): Scram!
The children, rather sheepish since the arrival of their
father, leave the room. The father unbuttons his over
coat, throws the hat on the sofa and sits down. The
mother has removed her shawl and asks the schoolteacher:
MOTHER: Would you like something to drink?
SCHOOLTEACHER: No, thank you. Very kind.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Really. Thank you very much.
The father sits down beside Eva and looks at the
schoolteacher. Eva appears to be awkward, and stares at
the table in front of her.
FATHER: So you're a schoolteacher.
FATHER: Can you afford to have a wife?
Short embarrassed PAUSE.
SCHOOLTEACHER: My father works as a tailor in
Grundbach. I have an apprentice's diploma. So I
earn quite a bit on the side
FATHER: You should have taken over your father's
business, that would have been smarter.
Well. And why are you so focused on that girl?
She's almost still a child. You could almost be
SCHOOLTEACHER (smiles): I'm thirty-one.
FATHER (grinning): Well, you can still handle
MOTHER (embarrassed): Father!
Eva and the schoolteacher don't know where to look.
FATHER: Let's be serious: do you know whether
she's willing to get married. She's still a
child. She hasn't seen anything of the world.
To Eva: Say something. Do you want him?
Eva wishes the earth would engulf her.
FATHER: Come on. Don't make such a fuss. He
walked all the way over through the fresh snow.
MOTHER: Why don't you leave her alone. Of
course, she wants him. Can't you feel that?!
FATHER: How can I? If she keeps her mouth shut!
Eva jumps up and runs out, so as not to burst into tears
out of shame.
The mother follows her, shaking her head disapprovingly
at the father. The schoolteacher stands up, as Eva ran
out. He'd rather follow her, but has to remain polite
toward the father. The father says calmly:
FATHER: Just sit down. That's how women are. A
bit hysterical, the whole lot of them. Listen.
I'm not a big talker. On one hand, it suits me
for the girl to leave the house. We have a lot
of mouths to feed, as you can see.
On the other hand, it's all moving a bit too
fast for me. I don't know you. It's not that I
don't like you, but I need to get some
information about you first. Besides, the town
hairdresser has agreed to take her on as an
That way she'll get to meet people and she can
make up he mind whether she really wants this or
not. And if in a year's time she has stuck to
this idea, we can l talk about it again. And you
can make up your mind too, all right?
SCHOOLTEACHER: I actually thought I...
FATHER (interrupts him): I know, I know. But
it's either that or nothing. You get it?
SCHOOLTEACHER (after a short pause) steps back:
If you insist...
FATHER: Yes, I do.
He holds out his hand to the schoolteacher, who accepts
it after a brief hesitation.
FATHER: That's it. I'm pleased. Well, business
is waiting. Even on holidays. I'll send the girl
back in so that you can say good-bye. A year
goes by fast. The world won't collapse. And
during your holidays you can come and visit her.
He leaves the room. The schoolteacher is thrown off
balance by all this. He stands up and takes a few steps.
He sits down again and thinks.
Finally, the door opens and Eva enters. She doesn't
really know what to do. Neither does the schoolteacher.
As she comes in he stands up again. Finally Eva goes
over to the table and sits down. The schoolteacher also
sits down. They exchange a short glance and an equally
SCHOOLTEACHER says: Did your father tell...?
SCHOOLTEACHER: Is that all right with you?
EVA: Is that all right with you, sir?
SCHOOLTEACHER (smiles): Don't be so formal with
Eva looks up. Their eyes meet. Then she takes his hand
in her hand. They remain seated without saying a word.
47. RECTORY. THE BOYS' BEDROOM. INT/NIGHT
It is dark. Martin, Anton and Florian, whom we don't
recognize at first glance, are lying in their beds.
Through the window, a red glow, slowly getting stronger.
MARTIN'S VOICE: Toni! Are you awake?
ANTON'S VOICE (half asleep): What is it?
MARTIN VOICE: Look.
ANTON'S VOICE: What's happening?
MARTIN VOICE: Look! Look what's happening out
Now, Anton sits up slowly, rubs his eyes.
ANTON'S VOICE: My God, what do you want?
MARTIN VOICE: Over there!! Have a look out of
Anton turns to the window and looks at the red glow.
Then he slips out of the bed and goes to the window.
Suddenly, he is wide-awake:
ANTON: Something is burning! Over there at the
MARTIN: Untie me!
Anton turns around to Martin, hesitates.
MARTIN: Come on, untie me!
Anton doesn't really know what to do. He turns to the
window again, then again to Martin. The latter screams
I told you to untie me!!
ANTON: I don't know...
MARTIN: I'll beat you black and blue, if you
don't untie me!
The loud dispute has now also awakened Florian, who says
in a drowsy voice:
FLORIAN: What's happening? Why can't you be
MARTIN: Flori, come over and untie me!
FLORIAN: What's going on?
MARTIN (yells): Untie me, dammit!! You idiots!
FLORIAN: It's burning?
Florian gets up himself and patters to the window. He
looks out and then says, amazed and enthusiastic:
MARTIN (imitates him angrily): OK, it's burning!
Now untie me, godammit!
Florian looks at Anton with questioning eyes and then
says to Martin:
FLORIAN: But Father hasn't allowed it...
Reverse angle POV of the two boys at the window toward
Martin, who we see for the first from the front. His
wrists are tied to the left and the right side of the
bed. Trying sit up, he pulls furiously at his ties.
MARTIN (furious): But if there's an emergency,
you idiot. Somebody must warn them! (he yells
loudly: Faaaather!! Mooooother!! Father!
Frightened by his screams, Anton now goes over to him
and undoes his ties.
ANTON: Stop shouting. I'll untie you.
FLORIAN: Shall I call Mother?
We already hear hurried STEPS in the corridor. The door
opens and the mother enters, dressed in a nightgown.
MOTHER: What's going on here?
Martin has just been untied.
MARTIN: It's burning!
MOTHER: I know. Your father has already gone.
In the door, the girls appear after their mother. They
have left their room attracted by the noise. The mother
turns to them:
MOTHER: What are you doing here? (to everyone):
You all go to bed now. It's nothing. There's a
fire on the estate. You don't need to be afraid.
Go to bed and sleep. Come on, Marie, take your
sisters with you and go to your room. Otherwise
you'll catch a cold.
The girls disappear again. The mother turns to Martin:
Why did you make so much noise? You woke us all
Martin doesn't know what to answer. Then he says
MARTIN: I thought it was dangerous.
ANTON (apologizing): I had to untie his hands.
MOTHER (calming them down): Now, everything's
all right again. Tomorrow, Father will tell you
what happened with the fire. All right? Now you
all got back to bed. I'll wait till you're back
in bed. It's freezing cold outside.
The three boys go back to bed. But first Anton ties up
Martin's hands again. He pulls a blanket over his
brother. Then they all disappear under their blankets.
MOTHER: Good night then. Sleep well.
MARTIN, ANTON, FLORIAN: Good night, Mom!
The mother closes the door. Coming from outside, we can
see the glow of the fire.
48. ESTATE EXT/NIGHT
A big barn is blazing fiercely. SOUNDS of the FIRE.
Against it we see, as silhouettes, the Baron, the
steward and his wife, the pastor, and all those, who are
vainly trying to save thing.
49. THE STEWARD'S HOUSE INT/NIGHT
In the children's bedroom, lit by the reflection from
the nearby flames: Liesl, Georg and Ferdinand. They
stand at the window and stare into the flames.
50. FARM BUILDINGS /EXT/DAY
Paul discovers his dead father in the pigsty. The farmer
has hung himself up from a hook in the wall. The
knocked-over stool still lies beneath his dangling feet.
Paul runs from the stable out to the
courtyard. He stops.
Then he tiptoes toward the stable door. As he touches
the stable door, he lacks the strength to go inside
again. Slowly he heads for the living room. The
children, who are gathered, pay no attention to him.
Leni, who's cooking, has looked up from her work
briefly. Paul sits down on the bench against the wall.
It is quite dark in there.
51. THE DOCTOR'S HOUSE. OFFICE. INT/DAY
The doctor sits at his desk, the midwife sits on the
visitor's chair opposite him. She tries to masturbate
This time, too, both are fully dressed. Over his
clothes, the doctor wears an unbuttoned white coat.
He watches the woman for a while in her activity, then
he says coldly:
DOCTOR: Wouldn't it be better if you stopped
It's like a slap in the face. She looks dumbfounded.
DOCTOR: Why all the effort? Don't look at me so
It's not that you lack talent... It's just that
I can't do it with you any more, that's all.
To tell you the truth: you disgust me.
He gets up and buttons up his pants. She feels as if the
world had collapsed around her.
Please finish your work now? I don't want to
spend all night here.
The midwife remains seated, her head bowed, as if struck
by a lightning
MIDWIFE (quietly): What did I do to you?
DOCTOR (irritated): My God, you haven't done
anything at all. You're ugly, you're messy,
you're flabby and you have bad breath. Isn't
PAUSE. He points at the examination couch on the other
side of the small room, saying casually:
The upholstery has to be sterilized with boiling
She remains immobile, and shoots a quick mechanical
glance at the examination couch. He looks at her.
Stop sitting there as if you were carrying all
the world's woes on your shoulders. The world
won't collapse down. Not on you, or on me.
(explains):I just want it to stop, that's all.
I've been trying, but it's just disgusting. I
try to think of another woman when I'm making
love to you, a woman who smells good, who's
young one, one who's less flabby than you, but
my imagination can't handle it. In the end, it's
you again and then I just feel like throwing up
and am embarrassed at myself. So what's the
MIDWIFE: Are you through?
DOCTOR:(contemptuously)): Yes, I have been for
He turns away. The midwife hardly moves. She's still
sitting on the visitor's chair. It takes her a lot of
strength not to faint at the same time she speaks out
MIDWIFE: You must be very unhappy to be so mean.
DOCTOR: Oh God! Please, not that routine!
MIDWIFE: I know that I'm not much to look at. My
bad breath comes from my stomach, you know that
very well. But it didn't bother you in the past
when we got together. I already had my ulcer
when your wife was still alive.
DOCTOR: Please spare me these sordid details.
But let me reassure you: it has always disgusted
me. I accepted it, because I wanted to ease my
pain after Erika's death and I didn't care with
whom. I could have screwed a cow. Whores are
unfortunately too far from here and regrettably
once every two months isn't enough for me, even
though I'm getting older. So skip your damn
martyrdom routine and get out.
MIDWIFE (keeps on speaking softly): Why did this
only occur to you now?
DOCTOR: According to you: when should it have
occurred to me?
At the hospital, I had forgotten how tiresome
you were. One grows sentimental when one's in
DOCTOR (tired): Get out. Why don't you get out.
Don't you have any pride?
MIDWIFE (equally tired): There's no room for any
DOCTOR: That's true.
MIDWIFE: Aren't you afraid that I might do
DOCTOR (laughs with disdain): Go ahead. At least
that would surprise me. But be careful: it might
MIDWIFE: I know. I'm ridiculous. You wouldn't
She looks at him.
MIDWIFE: Why do you despise me? For helping to
raise the boy? For watching you fingering your
little daughter and not saying a word?
The doctor goes over and slaps her. Tears start to run
down her face, but after a short pause she keeps on
For helping you to deceive yourself? For
listening to you claim how unique your love for
Erika was, though the whole village knew, how
badly you treated her?
For loving you, although I know you can't stand
The doctor snorts with disdain.
DOCTOR: That's it. Now leave me alone. I've got
work to do.
She gets up and makes room for him. He sits down at the
desk and "works". She looks down at him:
MIDWIFE: You can't afford to get rid of me. Who
would do the dirty work for you, who would help
you with the children, and here in you practice?
You're not speaking seriously. You just want to
see how far you can go, don't you: will she
still put up with it or can I drag her even
lower through the mud?
PAUSE. The doctor "works", as if he hadn't heard. She
keeps watching him for a while, and then says softly:
I'm tired too. I've got two retarded children:
Hans and you. You're the one that gives me most
He looks up at her. After a pause, he says:
DOCTOR: My God, why don't you just die?!
52. FARM. EXT/DAY
Rays of cold winter sun.
The men carry the coffin out of the house. Some people
are already waiting outside. All wear mourning clothes.
The coffin is shouldered, the funeral procession forms,
with the pallbearers and in the lead. The others who had
gathered in the house follow. Paul comes out with Sepp,
whom he tries to calm. Finally Leni comes out and, in
words that we can't hear, asks the old midwife to look
after the farm for a short while. She gathers her
sisters and with them gets in the funeral procession
right behind the coffin.
The procession starts to move off. As it comes around
the corner of the farm to go down the path leading to
the village, Franz comes toward them. Muttering is heard
from the villagers. They don't know how to react. The
procession slows down. Franz comes over. For a while he
stands in front of the coffin, head bowed. Then he joins
his brothers and sisters. He and Leni exchange a glance,
then he takes his place beside her. After he has
motioned to the coffin bearers, the procession starts to
move off again slowly, despite of the continued
muttering. Paul, who is still carrying Sepp, looks
expectantly toward his older brother who squeezes his
hand. Paul smiles shyly. Then Franz takes over little
Sepp, in the most natural way. For a long moment it
almost looks as if, despite of all the gloom, these
people weren't desperate.
53. VILLAGE AND SURROUNDING LANDSCAPE EXT/DAY
Various long shots of the snow-covered landscape.
NARRATOR: The year was coming to an end with
fine weather. The sun made the snowy landscape
sparkle so brightly that it hurt the eyes.
None of us suspected that it would be the last
time a year moved on to the next in an era of
peace, and that that same year a radical change
would take place of which no one had the
54. RECTORY. LIVING ROOM. INT/DAY
The decorated Christmas tree. Outside bright sunlight.
The pastor is taking the white ribbon off Marie's head
and Martin's arm. The rest of the family witnesses this
almost solemn act.
NARRATOR: ...Despite of the strange events, that
had unsettled the village, we thought of
ourselves as united in the belief that the life
in our community was God's will and worth
PASTOR: ... I take of this ribbon from you, in
the belief that from now on you'll no longer
You, Marie, will be accepted this year as a full
member of the church community. You will receive
Christ's body as bread and as wine. May the time
of preparation for the confirmation feast be one
of happiness and enrichment.
And you, Martin: from now on you shall not only
be free of that ribbon, but also from those
nightly ties that were intended to save you from
yielding to the temptations of your young body.
For in a house full of festive expectation, you
too, on your own, shall make your contribution
to mental and physical purity.
I trust in you, my beloved children, and wish
you a profitable and happy new year.
He strokes the children's heads. They kiss his hand. The
mother embraces them heartily.
55. ESTATE EXT/DAY
The Baroness, Sigi and a new, a forty-ish nanny with the
twins are get out of a carriage in front of the manor.
NARRATOR: Shortly after Easter, in the last week
of April, the Baroness came back with the
children. She was accompanied by a new nurse.
Thus my secret hope that Eva would be able to
come back here, had definitely been dashed.
The nurse was a chubby, middle-aged Italian who
came, as everybody soon learned, from the town
on the Mediterranean coast where the Baroness
had spent the winter.
A maid hurries out of the house with reinforcements, the
Baroness is being welcomed respectfully and the luggage
is being unloaded. The nurse gives instructions in
Italian, which leads to some confusion. Then the nanny
talks to Sigi who translates to the servants, laughing.
Besides, the boy looks transformed: instead of his
former pale skin color, his face now has a nice tan, his
fair hair has been further bleached by the sun, he has
grown taller and looks altogether stronger and happier.
The Baroness too seems more relaxed and restored.
She and Sigi are about to go straight into the house
when we hear, coming from the other side of the
FERDINAND'S VOICE: Sigi!
Sigi turns around. Ferdinand has seen him from the
window and called. Sigi waves back:
SIGI: Hi, Ferdinand!
FERDINAND: Wait! I'm coming down!
Sigi wants to run over to the steward's house.
BARONESS: Stay here, Sigi, you can see him
NURSE (in Italian): Let him go, Signora! He's so
happy to be home again.
BARONESS (muses, then smiles): All right, you
can go. But don't stay too long.
Sigi hurries off. The Baroness and the nurse look at
each other in agreement. The Baroness smiles faintly.
Then they go through the door into the house.
For a moment we only see the open door with the dark
stairwell behind it.
Then we hear the STEPS of the Baron, first on the gravel
in the yard. Then Baron comes into frame, and goes
through the door into the house. He vanishes into the
darkness of the stairwell. From there we hear his voice:
BARON (calling): Beatrix? Beatrix, where are
The nurse comes out after a while again
NURSE (calls in Italian): Sigi. Don't you want
to come say hello to your father?
But Sigi is talking intensely to Ferdinand on the other
side of the courtyard and doesn't answer.
56. SCHOOL. INT/DAY
The children are going wild. Brawling, sponge and chalk
are flying through the air. Some are packing up their
belongings, preparing to leave the classroom. In short,
the way children behave once the lesson is over.
Marie stands at the classroom door. She watches her
classmates. The she looks through the door into the
It's empty. She comes back to the CLASSROOM, but stays
at the door so that she can still keep an eye on the
corridor. Apparently, she has been posted there as a
lookout to warn against the possible arrival of a
The shouting, laughter and brawling goes on. Suddenly,
Marie sees the schoolteacher in the CORRIDOR
with her father. The two are having an animated
conversation. Marie bursts into the CLASSROOM and closes
the door to muffle the noise, then she shouts to her
MARIE: Watch out, he's coming!
But with all the shouting and laughter, her voice isn't
heard by all of the pupils. The noise dies down, some of
them stop misbehaving. Somebody picks up the sponge, and
the blackboard is quickly cleaned up of the traces of
the fight. But a small group who had started to chase
each other around, doesn't hear and keeps at it. Marie
shouts to them again, this time louder:
Be quiet! For God's sake! Be quiet!!
But as the wild chase goes on and some over-exited
children even make fun of her, and she yells at the top
of her voice:
At that moment, the door opens and the pastor comes in
with the schoolteacher.
Almost instantly, the room becomes QUIET. Without saying
a word, the pastor goes over to Marie, grabs her by the
ear and drags her through the whole classroom to the
stove, where he makes her stand, face to the wall. The
pupils remain silent, embarrassed.
While the pastor goes back to the black board, putting
his briefcase on the desk without saying a word, the
schoolteacher, who feels slightly responsible for the
lack of discipline of his classroom, says:
SCHOOLTEACHER: What's going on here? Why are you
still here? You know that there's a confirmation
class now! Get out!
The children disappear quickly. To the first child who
tries to sneak out the schoolteacher says:
How about saying good-bye?
Immediately all the CHILDREN rushing out say:
Good-bye, Sir! Good-bye, Pastor!
Finally, all the children have left the classroom,
except eight candidates for confirmation, among them
Paul, Xenia and Marie with her face still turned to the
The schoolteacher turns to the pastor:
SCHOOLTEACHER: I'm sorry, Pastor. It won't
The pastor answers with a reserved nod. In an icy
silence, he has waited for the all the younger pupils to
leave. As the schoolteacher notices that there will be
no further reaction from the pastor, he bows slightly to
him and says:
The schoolteacher leaves the room. The pastor turns to
the candidates for confirmation:
Let us pray.
They say the LORD'S PRAYER together. Then the pastor
The students sit down. Marie keeps standing facing the
wall. The pastor stops too. After a while he begins to
This is a very sad day for me.
In a few weeks, we all want to celebrate the
confirmation feast together.
For many months I have tried to bring God's word
closer to you, and to make responsible human
beings out of you in His spirit.
And what do I face today? A horde of yelling
monkeys, without any discipline or human
dignity, as childish as the seven-year olds,
with whom you're sharing this classroom.
But what makes me even sadder is the fact that
my own daughter is playing the leading role in
this pitiful display.
Last year I bound a white ribbon in her hair.
Well, you all know that white is the color of
innocence. The ribbon was meant to help Marie to
avoid sin, selfishness, envy, indecency, lies
Well, at the start of the year, I was naive
enough to believe, that now, in the year of her
confirmation, she'd become mature enough, and
that she wouldn't need that ribbon any more
I believed that she felt responsible, being the
daughter of the spiritual leader of a Christian
Marie, who all this time has been waiting beside the
stove, faints and collapses to the floor.
57. THE DOCTOR'S HOUSE. INT/NIGHT
The only light comes in from the living room. Rudolph
comes down the stairs, wearing a nightshirt.
RUDOLPH (softly): Xeni?
He goes into the LIVING ROOM.
RUDOLPH (as above, anxiously): Xeni? Where are
He goes into the KITCHEN.
It's also empty. Rudolph is desperate. He starts to cry.
Finally, he goes back to the STAIRWELL and goes up the
stairs to his room.
On the stairway, he notices light coming from under the
door of the practice. He goes back down the stairs down
again and opens the door of the PRACTICE.
In the bright light, sitting in front of each other, are
the doctor and Xenia. The doctor has his back to
Rudolph, so that we see Xenia's face first. She sits on
the visitor's chair. He has placed his chair in front of
hers, and his legs are closed around her legs. She's
The situation is ambiguous, we don't know what has
The noise at the door startles Xenia, she looks at
XENIA (startled, her face tearstained): Rudi?!
The doctor spins around, and looks stunned to his young
son. Both look as if they have been caught red-handed.
XENIA: What are you doing here? Why aren't you
Rudolph doesn't really know, what to think of all this,
but being the good child he is, he answers
RUDOLPH: I can't get to sleep.
XENIA: That's why you're wandering around like a
ghost in the middle of the night?
RUDOLPH: I woke up and you weren't there.
Short PAUSE. Xenia wipes the tears from her face.
XENIA (trying to smile): Dad has pierced my
RUDOLPH: Does it hurt?
XENIA: Yes, a bit.
RUDOLPH: That's why you're crying?
XENIA (tries to smile): I'm not crying any more.
DOCTOR (trying to joke): Beauty has to suffer.
That's what they say. At least for girls...
He gets up and goes, still seen from behind, to a
closet, and puts something into it that we can't
recognize. He's straightens his clothes. Then he goes
over to Rudolph:
DOCTOR: Now go to bed again. You too, Xeni.
As Rudolph hesitates and looks at her dubiously, she
explains, almost eagerly:
I haven't worn earrings for a long time, that's
why my earlobes grew back again.
To show him, she grasps one of her ears.
For Whitsun feast, when we all want to look our
best make ourselves look beautiful, I'm getting
new earrings. The ones that Mom had, with
Rudolph looks at her. He doesn't think she's telling the
58. RECTORY. THE PASTOR'S STUDY. INT/DAY
Marie comes in. She's wearing a nightshirt, her hair is
damp and sticks to her head. She looks sick and
She closes the door quietly, then goes to her father's
desk and opens a few drawers. She ends up finding the
letter-opener. It has a hilt and looks like a small
She takes the letter-opener, goes to the birdcage, puts
the letter-opener down beside it and grabs the tiny
canary. As the bird chirps, she glances round at the
door, as if to make sure that nobody is coming.
NARRATOR: A few days after Marie's fainting-fit
that frightened us all, and that was followed by
her feverish and debilitated state...
She takes the bird into her left hand so that its little
head is turned upwards, and picks up the letter-opener
with her right hand...
59. ESTATE. STEWARD'S HOUSE. INT/DAY
The schoolteacher is led by the steward's wife to the
living room. She carries an apron and her sleeves are
rolled up. Apparently she was just preparing a cake, and
her sticky hands make her open the door with her elbow.
Because of the narrator's voice, we don't grasp what
they're saying, but we understand that she's asking him
to come in and wait for the person he wants to see, and
that she can't keep him company now.
NARRATOR:...I went to see the steward, because I
wanted to borrow the carriage for the Whitsun
Since my marriage proposal, Eva had written me
once a week, and I got the feeling that she felt
lost and alone in the city, and was asking me
between the lines to come to see her again,
despite of her father's interdiction.
I wanted to spend Whitsun Saturday with her so
that I could be back on Sunday again and prepare
the confirmation feast with the pastor.
The steward had gone to the sawmill, but was
supposed to be back any minute. His wife, who
was busy preparing for Whitsun, asked me into
the living room and to wait there for his
The steward's wife has left the room. The schoolteacher
sits around, bored. After a while he gets up, goes to
the window and looks out.
The courtyard is empty.
Suddenly, the schoolteacher hears a female VOICE in the
next room SPEAKING softly.
He listens, then he goes to the wing door and looks
through the gap on the etched glass-window of the door
into the next room.
There, Liesl sits beside the cradle and talks quietly to
The schoolteacher opens the door. Liesl sees him, gets
up and greets him politely with a curtsy:
LIESL: Good morning, Sir.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Hello, Liesl..
Smiling, the schoolteacher goes to the cradle and looks
SCHOOLTEACHER: He's cute..
LIESL: Yes, he is.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Do you like him.
LIESL: Yes. Very much.
SCHOOLTEACHER: He was very sick last winter, I
LIESL: Yes. Very sick. But the doctor cured him.
With God's help.
PAUSE. The schoolteacher looks out the window to see if
the steward isn't coming.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Maybe, I'll pop back this
LIESL: I'm sure Father will be back for coffee
She looks at the grandfather clock, that indicates
quarter to four. The schoolteacher thinks for a moment,
then he goes to the living room:
SCHOOLTEACHER: Then, I'll go sit down again next
LIESL: Can I bring you something? A cup of
coffee. I'm sure it's ready.
SCHOOLTEACHER (smiling at her eagerness): No,
He stands in the door:
I'll sit down over there again and just wait.
He wants to close the door behind himself. Suddenly
LIESL says: Sir!
LIESL: Can dreams come true?
The schoolteacher smiles, surprised at the unexpected
SCHOOLTEACHER: That depends, why?
LIESL(serious): On what?
SCHOOLTEACHER (smile): On what does it depend?
Well if you dream of getting the first prize at
the school feast, and study hard for it, then
your dream can come true.
LIESL, shakes her head, quietly: That's not what
The schoolteacher feels that she has something on her
mind and asks, this time without irony:
SCHOOLTEACHER: Well, what did you mean then?
She looks at him, wondering if she should really discuss
it. He nods to encourage her.
LIESL: I mean, if you dream something in your
sleep, I mean, if you really dream it in your
sleep, can it come true?
SCHOOLTEACHER (also serious): Why, what did you
She bows her head.
The schoolteacher thinks for a moment, then he goes over
Come on, tell me. You have something on your
mind, haven't you?
She shakes her bowed head. But suddenly, she starts to
LIESL (crying): I always dream such horrible
SCHOOLTEACHER (dear): Tell me what you've been
She sobs, he takes out a handkerchief and hands it to
Take this. Now, calm down again. And then tell
me what's going on.
Liesl takes the handkerchief, blows her nose and wipes
away her tears. She doesn't completely manage to hold
her tears back, and breathes haltingly. She hands the
handkerchief back to the schoolteacher.
The schoolteacher puts the handkerchief away with an
imperceptible smile and then says reassuringly:
SCHOOLTEACHER: All right. Now go on.
The girl sniffles a couple of times again, then swallows
and says quietly:
LIESL: I dreamt that the Hansi the midwife's
odd little boy ...
SCHOOLTEACHER (reassuringly): I know, I know.
LIESL: - ...that something very bad is going to
happen to him.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Something very bad?
Liesl nods eagerly.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Like what?
LIESL: I don't know. Something like what
happened to Sigi not long ago. But even worse.
She starts to cry again:
But he's so sweet. He harms no one.
Touched, the schoolteacher puts his arm around Liesl's
SCHOOLTEACHER: All right. All right. That was
just a dream. You needn't take it so seriously.
LIESL (crying): They always make fun of him,
because he doesn't really...
SCHOOLTEACHER (calmly): Yes, I know, but nobody
will do him any harm, you can be sure of that.
Liesl can't calm down.
Do you want my handkerchief back?
She shakes her head.
SCHOOLTEACHER: What gave you the idea that your
dream would come true?
She just shakes her head, and keeps on crying. Then he
takes the handkerchief out again and hands it to her. As
she doesn't take it, he nudges her. She looks up,
confused. He holds the handkerchief again with a
cheerful nod. She takes it and blows her nose. The she
slowly calms down.
SCHOOLTEACHER (now "reasonable" in order to
"calm her down"): Dreams don't come true. Let
alone that kind.
She shrugs her shoulders, as if she disagrees with what
he's saying. Her head bowed she stands before him,
holding his handkerchief.
She breathes a few more times, then says with an almost
LIESL(serious): But sometimes my dreams do come
SCHOOLTEACHER: What do you mean?
LIESL says: Last winter, before Putzl (she
points to the baby) became ill, I dreamt that my
brother put him beside the open window, so that
And the day the window was open and he caught a
chill and he almost died.
The schoolteacher is completely perplexed. At first he
doesn't know what to say.
SCHOOLTEACHER: What are you saying there? That's
Liesl bows her head again.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Somebody probably didn't close
the window properly.
What gave you that idea? Why would your brother
do such a thing?
LIESL,(defiantly, as he's not believing her):
Because he's jealous.
SCHOOLTEACHER: And because you believe that, you
dreamt it. It doesn't mean anything at all. It's
just a coincidence.
LIESL (keeping her head bowed): All right.
The schoolteacher bends over to catch her gaze.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Look at me.
She looks at him reluctantly, maintaining her defiant
SCHOOLTEACHER: Don't tell such stories to
You obviously don't realize the harm you can do
Again she looks down at the floor.
You didn't tell the story to your parents,
She shakes her head.
All right then.
Forget it quickly. I shall forget it, too.
As she doesn't answer, he repeats:
She nods almost imperceptibly.
Now can I have my handkerchief back...
He holds his hand out to her. Astonished she looks at
the handkerchief in her hands. She had forgotten it
completely, and gives it back the schoolteacher.
He pockets the handkerchief.
Now, we both have a secret. And you promise me
that it will remain a secret between us. All
She nods reluctantly. He insists, seeks her gaze:
LIESL (reluctantly): Yes.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Well. All right then.
You don't have to worry. Nothing will happen to
(smiling): Nobody is jealous of him.
She glances at him to see whether he's making fun of
her. He looks at her seriously and gives her a nod that
demands an answer. She nods briefly. But it isn't clear
whether she just does it to please him.
Dreams don't come true. That only happens in
fairy-tales. Forget all about it.
He looks at her, as she stands there, head bowed.
Finally he smiles and tries to "crack a joke" to make
the matter less serious:
Do you know what they did to little girls who
predicted the future in ancient times? They
burned them at the stake as witches.
She looks up at him, round-eyed.
60. RECTORY. THE PASTOR'S STUDY. INT/DAY
The pastor comes through the door, goes to his desk, and
is about to put down his briefcase.
The dead bird lies in the middle of the desk with its
wings spread out. The pastor's letter-opener is stuck in
its neck - only the hilt sticks out from its beak.
61. STREET. EXT/DAY
The schoolteacher and Eva drive in the carriage. In the
background, we catch glimpses of the town.
NARRATOR: We had arranged to meet at the town
railway station, since Eva wanted to avoid being
seen with me. She was living with distant
relatives, who were apparently reporting
regularly to Eva's parents about her life-style.
She had become thinner which made her even
prettier, and once again I was ravished by her
mixture of shyness and almost childlike
EVA (imitating somebody): ..."...You want your
hair parted r to the right or to the left?" "How
about one parting to the left and one to the
Both laugh heartily.
All the people in the saloon were laughing their
heads off. Even Mr. Murer, who's so
distinguished that he never cracks a smile, had
SHORT PAUSE, in which the laughter fades down.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Then, it isn't really so awful,
EVA: No. But sweeping up hair all day honestly
the twins were more fun, I must say.
But it's all right. I can't really complain.
The schoolteacher looks at her sideways, smiling:
She looks at him, doesn't understand that he's trying to
make her complain about their forced separation, and
EVA: No. Really.
The schoolteacher exchanges a smiling glance with her,
then looks back at the road:
SCHOOLTEACHER (smiling): And apart from the
twins, there's nothing you're missing?
She looks at him, surprised. Suddenly, she understands.
She shakes her head with a smile, then takes his hand
for a short moment, as if she were apologizing for her
lack of sensitivity.
EVA: Oh, you of course!
He looks at her hand on his, but she already has
withdrawn it. Both seem very happy. After a few moments,
during which the horse keeps trotting, Eva leans against
the schoolteacher and puts her head against his
shoulder. But the shaking of the carriage on the rutted
road makes that position untenable and so they sit side
by side again and drive on. Finally
EVA says: And how is the nurse? Does she only
SCHOOLTEACHER: I don't know. That's what the
steward told me.
EVA: I see.
At that moment the road crosses a brook, that runs
through a small wood. The schoolteacher steers the
carriage on to a trail that branches off the road after
EVA: Where are you going?
SCHOOLTEACHER: Over there, into the forest
beside the brook. We can picnic over there. I
brought a basket of food.
EVA (softly): I don't want that.
SCHOOLTEACHER (perplexed): Why?
Eva looks down and shakes her head. The schoolteacher
stops the carriage, turns to her:
What's going on?
EVA: Nothing. Please.
Now he understands. He smiles although he can't really
understand that she's been thinking such a thing of him.
Now he talks to her almost as to a child, astonished and
SCHOOLTEACHER: But I don't want anything
forbidden from you. I just wanted you to enjoy
She looks up at him.
SCHOOLTEACHER (astonished): Do you think, I
might want to bring disgrace on my future wife?
She keeps looking at him pleadingly. Finally he gives
in, slightly disappointed:
All right then. I'll turn over there.
He drives on. After a few meters, Eva puts her hand on
his hands and on the reins. He stops the carriage, she
looks at him.
He doesn't know what say. They look at each other.
Suddenly Eva leans forward and kisses him on the lips
very cautiously. They remain that way for a long while
without their bodies touching each other.
After separating, they forget at first to keep
breathing. Then, once the worst of the confusion has
abated, they both turn away from each other. The
schoolteacher lets the horse start trotting again, and
they sit side by side on the bumping vehicle, looking
straight ahead, quiet and overwhelmed by the happiness
of the moment.
62. CHURCH INT/DAY
The church is packed.
The 8 candidates for confirmation are kneeling at the
Communion bench. One after the other, the pastor puts
the cup to their lips.
Accept and drink!
This is the blood of the New Testament,
Shed for the forgiveness of your sins.
As he reaches Marie, who is kneeling fifth in line, he
hesitates a long moment. For so long, that this causes a
few irritated stares from the devout parish. Even more
than the other children, Marie is also numb with
excitement. It almost looks like she might faint again.
But then he holds out the cup to her too, and she
Accept and drink!
That is the blood of the new will,
spilled for you so that your sins will be
He wipes the cup, where Marie's mouth drank as he does
after each child - and goes on to the next one,
repeating the rite...
63. FOREST EXT/NIGHT
Distant VOICES. At first incomprehensible. Gradually we
understand them better:
VOICES: Hansi? Where are you? Give us a sign!
Hansi, where are you?
Here and there silhouettes appear in the half-light.
Some carry lanterns, other torches. It takes some time
before they get nearer and become recognizable: they're
men and women from the village.
After a while
MAN'S VOICE(calling): Over here. He's here.
We follow those running over: Bound to a tree is a small
boy. His whole head is wrapped up in rags. A small slit
has been left open so the nose can breathe. He MOANS.
A paper has been tied around his neck with a white
The people hurry toward the child, free the child of its
fetters. The child slumps down, his head is unwrapped,
covered in blood: it's the mongoloid son of the midwife.
Astonished, somebody reads the words written in block
letters on the paper):
FOR I THE LORD YOUR GOD AM A JEALOUS GOD,
VISITING THE INIQUITY OF THE FATHERS UPON THE
CHILDREN TO THE THIRD AND THE FOURTH GENERATION
OF THOSE WHO HATE ME.
64. SCHOOL. INT/DAY
Marie, Martin, Paul, Georg, and a couple of other
children are waiting at the classroom door. They remain
silent. They're listening.
NARRATOR: After this intricate atrocity
committed on the retarded boy, even the Baron
was finally convinced that it would be more
intelligent to call upon the professional help
of the county's police force.
So a few days later a couple of plainclothes
policemen arrived and, after a visit to the
several of the crime scenes, started to ask in
various homes if anyone had noticed anything
The two detectives question Liesl in the presence of the
schoolteacher and become more and more aggressive. Liesl
ends up crying.
NARRATOR: After learning of Hansi's torture, I
didn't think at first of what Liesl had told me.
When it came back to my mind, I at first
hesitated to tell the authorities about it.
Because of such an absurd coincidence, I didn't
want to jeopardize the reputation and inner
peace of the steward's family.
But when I heard that Hansi might loose his
eyesight because of his injuries, one afternoon
I made Liesl come to school and tell the police
officers about her dream.
FIRST POLICE OFFICER: ...Thank God, we're not as
stupid as you might think.
LIESL (crying, desperate): But I only dreamt it.
PAUSE. The officers exchange an impatient look with the
schoolteacher, who himself doesn't really know what to
think of Liesl's story. He looks at her thoughtfully.
The police officer turns to the girl again:
FIRST POLICE OFFICER: Now listen carefully! I'll
give you a last chance: you tell me, who told
you about the plan to torture the boy, and we
won't tell anybody who told us. All right?
Liesl shakes her head desperately, crying again. The
police officer looks at the schoolteacher. The latter
doubts whether he should speak up. He feels sorry for
the girl. Finally, he says:
SCHOOLTEACHER: She's already dreamed of
something that has come true.
FIRST POLICE OFFICER (ironic): Is that so? And
what was it, if I may ask?
SCHOOLTEACHER (wanting to spare her talking
about it): Something that happened in her
FIRST POLICE OFFICER (just as before): I see.
Something to do with her family. And have you
checked if it was true?
SCHOOLTEACHER (irritated): No.
The police officer looks at him, grunts with disdain,
and turns to his colleague:
FIRST POLICE OFFICER (scornfully): Well, all
that may be true. Maybe we're really dealing
here with an authentic clairvoyant, and we don't
realize how lucky we are. Maybe we only need to
ask her, who's behind all this. The we send her
to bed, she dreams a bit, and tomorrow she tells
us who did it. How about that? Everything's
possible, isn't it?
Suddenly, he yells at the girl:
Liesl jumps up with fear. The police officer stands
right in front of her:
Your deceitful whining won't work with me. I've
got other ways to make you talk. I don't believe
in witches and magicians, let alone that a
chubby little girl like you has supernatural
hallucinations. Therefore you'd better get used
to the idea of telling the truth, because you
won't bet rid of me until you've come clean. Is
All right, and now we're going to visit your
parents to see what they think of your version
of the story.
He pulls the girl to her feet. She's thoroughly
intimidated, and sniffles faintly. Then he leads her
toward the door, at the same time turning to the
I'd be grateful if you came too.
The schoolteacher finds the policeman's behavior toward
the child exaggeratedly aggressive, but he follows
SCHOOLTEACHER: Of course.
The police officer opens the door to the
and almost bumps into a group of pupils that have
FIRST POLICE OFFICER: Oooops! What do we have
MARIE (kindly): Good afternoon. Good afternoon,
CHILDREN (as before): Good afternoon. Good
Obviously the schoolteacher didn't expect them, but
doesn't want to show it in front of the police.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Good afternoon.
FIRST POLICE OFFICER: Why are you eavesdropping?
MARIE (politely): We saw from outside that the
schoolteacher was having visitors. We didn't
want to intrude. We were just waiting to talk to
PAUSE. The police officer looks at the schoolteacher:
SCHOOLTEACHER: What do you want?
MARIE (as if she was too shy to talk in front of
strangers: We wanted to ask you something about
Again, the police officer looks at the schoolteacher.
SCHOOLTEACHER: What is it?
MARIE (hesitates a moment, then "screws up her
courage" and asks): We heard he isn't well. We
just wanted to ask if we could be of any help.
65. THE MIDWIFE'S HOUSE INT/NIGHT
The doctor carefully examines Hansi's wounds. Especially
the areas around eyes that are badly affected. The boy
The midwife stands beside him, trying to stay calm, but
she is paralyzed with fear, and visibly still in a state
It's very quiet. The doctor speaks with a soothing,
almost tender voice to the child, who keeps on moaning:
DOCTOR (softly): All right... Everything's all
right, Hansi... I know, it hurts... You've got
to be patient... everything will be fine
He has finished his treatment (and has bandaged the
boy's eyes again), and wants get up. But Hansi's hand
clings to his, and holds him back. He hesitates a
moment. The doctor and the midwife exchange a brief
glance. Then, the doctor cautiously frees his hand from
I have to go now, Hansi. Don't worry, I'll be
The boy moans louder and tries again to grasp the hand
of the doctor, who he can't see. Brief exchange of
glances between the doctor and the midwife, who ends up
sitting on Hansi's bed, taking the boy's hands.
MIDWIFE: It's all right, Hansi. Don't be afraid.
The Doctor will be back.
The doctor motions to the midwife that she should stay
with the child, and leaves the room silently and almost
66. LANDSCAPE WITH A BROOK AND PASTURES EXT/DAY
Sitting at a brook, Sigi, Ferdinand and Georg have cut
willow twigs with their pocketknives and are now carving
whistles out of them. Their feet dangle in the water,
they're concentrated on their work.
Georg is the first to have finished. Proudly he tries it
out, but the little whistle doesn't sound very good. He
hides his disappointment, and keeps on carving to
improve the sound.
Then Sigi's whistle is ready and it sounds very good.
Sigi is delighted. After a short and proud look over to
his rivals, he leans back into the grass and keeps on
Georg looks with irritation at the "braggart", and keeps
on carving. Then he gives it another try, but the
whistle doesn't sound much better than before.
Sigi's whistling makes Georg's seem ridiculous.
Ferdinand looks at Georg with a gloating grin.
Suddenly Georg pounces on Sigi and tries to grab his
whistle. Sigi fights back and refuses to let go.
Ferdinand also gets up and watches the two, grinning.
Even if Sigi is no longer the weakling he used to be
before his stay in Italy, Georg, who is three years
older than him, is much stronger: with the weight of his
whole body he charges at Sigi, making him fall backward
into the shallow water of the brook, and takes his
The shock almost knocks out Sigi, and though the stream
isn't deep, half of his head lies under the flowing
water. Georg sees the danger, but his pride prevents him
from helping him, as it means admitting his own unjust
behavior. For a moment he hesitates, a helpless and
defiant grin on his face. But Ferdinand has already
jumped into the water and pulls out Sigi, who shakes his
head to fully come to his senses.
Ferdinand looks up at Georg, who is standing on the
bank, still holding the whistle in his hand. Then Georg
points his finger at him, and says furiously and
GEORG (threatening): If you rat on me, you'll be
67. RECTORY. STUDY. INT/DAY
The pastor sits at his desk, working. A KNOCK is heard.
PASTOR: Come in!
Florian comes in, hesitantly. In his hand, he carries a
birdcage (we've already seen it in Scene 49 in the boy's
bedroom at night). In the cage is the bird that Florian
had found on Thanksgiving day, and who has recovered in
The boy looks embarrassed. He glances at his father,
then comes over with the cage and puts it carefully on
his father's desk. As Florian approaches, the pastor
looked on, amazed. After putting down the cage, Florian
steps back a little, then stops, his head slightly
PASTOR (not really understanding): What is it?
What do you want?
FLORIAN (softly): For Pipsi. (PAUSE. Then even
more softly): Because Father is sad.
The pastor looks at him, doesn't know how to react.
Then, with a hoarse voice and trying to look
indifferent, he says:
PASTOR: Thank you.
FLORIAN (as apprehensive in front of his
father's perceptible emotion): You're welcome,
For a moment, neither of them knows what to do. Then the
boy leaves the room.
The pastor follows him with his eyes. Then, he sits
down. He tries to keep his composure, but in the end he
bursts into tears. He sobs haltingly, trying hard not
let it be heard.
68.THE STEWARD'S HOUSE INT/EXT/DAY
THE CHILDREN'S ROOM.
Georg stands at the window and looks down at the
Coming from the manor, the steward is walking over
THE CHILDREN'S ROOM.
Georg leaves the window and sits down at his table,
doing his homework.
We hear the FRONT DOOR opening downstairs, then the
father's hasty STEPS on the stairs.
Finally, the father appears in the door. He's out of
breath, furious, and tries to speak quietly
STEWARD: Give me that whistle!
Georg looks at his father, "not understanding".
GEORG: I beg your pardon?
STEWARD (forcedly, with threatening calm): Give
me that whistle!
GEORG: What whistle?
At this, the steward pounces on the boy and smacks him
so hard that he falls out of his chair.
Give it to me!
GEORG (on the ground): What whistle?
The steward yanks him up and shoves him against the
wall. Georg stumbles over the table which is standing in
the way, and lies back on the table top, trying to
protect his face with his hands.
STEWARD: Give away it to me, or I'll kill you.
GEORG (half moaning): I have no whistle.
The steward lets go of him and starts to beat him
GEORG (screaming): Ouch! ...Ouch!!
STEWARD (beat): You bastard, you wretch!
GEORG (scream): Ouch! Ouch! !! Please don't
At that moment, attracted by the noise, Emma, the
EMMA: For God's sake, Georg, what are you doing?
What has the boy done?
The mother's arrival has snapped the father out of his
blind rage. He glances at her, then turns to the boy
again, breathless with excitement, but forcing himself
to be calm:
STEWARD: For the last time: give it to me!
GEORG (almost crying with pain): But I don't
know what you mean, Father.
The mother looks uncomprehendingly from one to the
other, then turns pleadingly to her husband:
EMMA: What's going on? What are you talking
STEWARD (to Georg): You know exactly what I
Again the mother looks from one to the other, trying to
save the situation:
EMMA: But if he says so! Georg! What's going on?
The steward turns to her, annoyed by her insistence,
looks at her for a long moment, then at Georg again and
turns on his heels and leaves the room.
The steward runs down the stairs. The mother follows
EMMA (excited): Georg! Please wait! What did the
boy do?! Please, tell me! Why are you so
She reaches the steward as he is just about to open the
front door and places herself in front of him.
EMMA (imploring, "reasonable"): Georg! Please!
Calm down. If you could tell me...
STEWARD (also "reasonable", in order to get rid
of her): Please don't interfere. Leave me alone
now! I have to go back to the Baron. He...
At that moment we hear from upstairs the full SOUND of
Sigi's whistle s from above, wild and lasting.
For a moment, the steward is paralyzed, then he seizes
the horsewhip hanging from hook in the wardrobe and
dashes upstairs. We hear him thrashing the boy in the
room, and soon the WHISTLING is replaced by Georg's
SCREAMS OF PAIN
After a short hesitation, the mother runs upstairs after
her husband, and we now hear her trying in vain trying
to control her husband.
EMMA: Georg! Please! Stop it! Don't kill him...!
69. ESTATE. DINING ROOM. COURTYARD. INT/EXT/NIGHT
The meal is over. The Baroness watches the maid clearing
the table and putting everything away on a tray.
The Baron has stood up, standing with his back to his
wife. He pours himself a glass of brandy.
BARON: ... with the birches over there in Aigen
that should make about six-thousand cubic
meters. Working steadily, they should have
finished it within three weeks. If until the end
of the month we...
The maid has left with the tray.
BARONESS (interrupts him): I won't stay here.
BARON (doesn't understand): What did you say?
BARONESS: I won't stay here.
BARON (turns around to her): What do you mean
BARONESS: What I mean is that I shall leave with
BARON: What do you mean: you're leaving with the
BARONESS: Come on, Armin! It's not that
difficult to understand, is it?
BARON: May I ask you how you plan to do that?
BARONESS (quiet): I don't know yet. But in any
case, we're leaving this place.
BARON (sarcastic): We.
Look of the Baroness ("I don't need that kind of
The maid enters to clear the rest of the table. It leads
to a longer PAUSE. The Baron drinks his brandy, goes to
the window, waits. As the maid leaves the room, she
looks at the Baroness inquiringly:
BARONESS (to the maid): I don't need you any
longer. Thank you.
MAID: Good night, Baroness. Good night, Baron.
BARONESS: Good night.
Even after the maid has left, they remain SILENT for
quite a long while. Finally, she says
BARONESS: I returned from Italy only out of
deceny toward you. I wanted to give us a chance.
BARON (turns around): You wanted me "to give me
BARON: Well, that's brilliant! And did I miss my
chance? Or what?
BARONESS (quietly): Do you think that will help
us solve the problem?
BARONESS: Your sarcasm.
BARON: Actually, what is the problem that has to
The Baroness looks at him, then gets up and wants to
leave the room.
BARON (suddenly yelling): You stay here!!
She turns around, looks at him.
BARON (softer): You only leave this room if I
tell you to do so.
She looks at him.
She goes back to her chair and sits down.
BARONESS: I wanted to spare you this, but you
force me to do it:
During our stay with Uncle Edoardo I fell in
love with a man. He's from Lombardy, he works in
the banking business and helped Uncle Edoardo in
a financial matter. He courted me and was also
very fond of the children. If Sigi has blossomed
and grown so healthy, it's largely thanks to
Despite all this, we came back.
Because I feel committed to you. But I can't
stand this place any longer. Not so much for me
personally, though I can't say that life with
you is exactly thrilling for a woman of my age.
But if I leave this place, it's because I don't
want Sigi, and later the twins, to grow up in
surroundings dominated by malice, envy, apathy
and brutality. What happened with Sigi's whistle
was the last straw. I'm sick and tired of
persecutions, threats and perverse acts of
BARON: Did you sleep with him?
BARONESS (laughing scornfully): You don't
BARON: Did you sleep with him?
BARONESS (quietly): No. I didn't sleep with him.
BARON: You're lying, aren't you?
The Baroness looks at him. Then she gets up, about to
leave the room again. At the same moment, somebody
KNOCKS at the door. After a short gesture of irritation
BARON (irked): Come in!
The steward appears.
STEWARD: Good evening. Could I talk to you for a
BARON (annoyed): Can't it wait until tomorrow?
STEWARD: It's really urgent. Normally, I
wouldn't have disturbed you so late.
Annoyed, the Baron leaves the room with him. As he goes
out, the steward greets the Baroness with a nod.
Once the door is closed, she stops for a moment, goes to
the window, and looks out pensive. She ends up going to
the small bar and pours herself a glass of brandy. Her
hands are shaking a little. She drinks from the glass,
goes back to the window and looks out waiting, taking a
sip from now and then. Below in the
a few people walk around nervously. But it doesn't look
particularly unusual. A saddled horse is led into the
stable. Finally, the door of the
opens again. The Baron comes back inside. He looks
distressed. The Baroness doesn't know whether this is
the result of her conversation, or of the message
brought by the steward. The Baron paces a few steps,
pondering, then glances at his wife. Finally, she asks
BARONESS: What's going on?
BARON: They've shot the heir to the throne of
Austria. In Sarajevo.
70. VILLAGE AND SURROUNDING LANDSCAPE EXT/DAY
The same setting as in Scene 57. The countryside in all
its summer splendor.
NARRATOR: The news spread around the village
like wildfire. What would the consequences be?
The first person who spoke the word WAR, was
severely contradicted. But once it had been
uttered, it remained at the center of all our
thoughts in a curiously stubborn way.
I wanted to go to the town as quickly as
possible, in order to discuss it with Eva, what
we should do if war broke out. Perhaps her
father would now agree to an earlier marriage.
I asked the Baroness for the bicycle, with which
Eva had visited her parents some time ago. The
following weekend I planned use it to ride to
town and see her.
71. ESTATE EXT/DAY
The schoolteacher is pushing the bicycle out of the
manor house. He says good-bye to a maid, who closes the
door behind him. Some SHOUTING o.s. makes him look
toward the steward's house: the steward comes out with
the midwife, and it looks like he's throwing her out
with a flood of angry insults.
NARRATOR: When I went to the estate on Friday
evening to pick up the bicycle, so I could take
it with me to the school, and get going early,
as the trip was a quite long one, I witnessed a
STEWARD: ...completely mad! Go if you want.
He'll throw you out on your ear.
Slandering other people and creating trouble.
That's all we need now!
Get out and never come back again! This is
Go ahead, do whatever you think you have to do!
MIDWIFE (simultaneously): ...I'll go to the
Baron. We'll see what he says. You won't silence
me. Who do you think you are?! You'll see. I'll
tell him that you tried to prevent me from
giving the police a statement.
Angrily the steward slams the door behind him. At first
the midwife doesn't know what to do. Finally she turns
away from the door and starts to cross the yard. There,
she sees the schoolteacher. She comes over to him.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Good afternoon, Mrs. Wagner.
MIDWIFE (very excited): Good afternoon. Can I
borrow your bicycle?
SCHOOLTEACHER: It's not mine.
MIDWIFE: Could I borrow it just the same?
SCHOOLTEACHER: I just borrowed it myself. I
going to ride to town, to see my fiancée..
MIDWIFE: Please! Lend it to me!
SCHOOLTEACHER: Why do you need it? Where do you
want to go?
MIDWIFE: I must go to town.
SCHOOLTEACHER: What for?
MIDWIFE: I asked the steward for a carriage, but
that stubborn fool won't agree to anything.
Please! Lend me the bicycle.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Why? What is going on?
After hesitating a while
MIDWIFE: I have to go to the police in town. I
now know who committed all these crimes.
SCHOOLTEACHER (flabbergasted): Who?
MIDWIFE: Will you let me have the bicycle?
SCHOOLTEACHER: Why don't you tell me?
MIDWIFE: From now on I shall only talk to the
police. I won't let them insult me (turning to
the steward's house): As you just saw.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Can't the doctor can lend you his
MIDWIFE: I don't know how to ride.
The schoolteacher looks at her inquisitively, because he
still doesn't understand what it's all about, but she
doesn't respond, and says:
MIDWIFE: Please! Believe me! (She hesitates and
adds, now quietly and imploringly):
My son told me who did it to him. He may loose
Please, you let me have the bicycle!
The schoolteacher looks at her. The midwife looks
pitiful: she tries to smile at him pleadingly, tears are
streaming down her face.
Finally, he gives the bicycle to her. She grabs it
and rides away. The schoolteacher remains behind, alone.
He stands pensive, then he goes slowly back to the
NARRATOR: The state that woman was in, who I
knew was level-headed, had deeply impressed me.
What had her son told her, that she didn't dare
72. VILLAGE STREET. EXT/DUSK
The schoolteacher goes home.
NARRATOR: With each step I took from the estate
back to the school, I felt more foolish for
having given away the bicycle.
As he passes the midwife's house, he sees behind the
fence in the garden, half hidden behind the bushes,
Marie and a few other children. The shutters of the
house are closed.
As I passed the midwife's house, I saw Marie,
Martin, and a few other children in the garden.
The schoolteacher stops, watches the children. After a
few moments, they notice that somebody is watching them.
MARIE: Good evening, Sir.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Good evening, Marie.
CHILDREN: Good evening, Sir.
SCHOOLTEACHER: What are you doing here?
MARIE: We wanted to see how Hansi was doing.
SCHOOLTEACHER: But can't you see that the
shutters are closed.
MARIE: Yes. We were worried. We saw Mrs. Wagner
riding off on a bicycle. So we wondered what had
happened to Hansi.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Go home now. Nobody said you
could come in here.
The children go out slowly. They open the wooden gate in
the fence, and go out into the street. They're visibly
embarrassed at being caught by the schoolteacher when
they were doing something wrong. Some avoid the
schoolteacher's eyes, while others mutter a greeting, as
if they wanted to say goodbye, as they went away. The
schoolteacher looks annoyed. As Marie steps out of the
garden door, he says:
SCHOOLTEACHER: You better go back home now,
Marie doesn't seem to feel guilty at all. Again she
greets him politely.
MARIE: Good evening, Teacher.
SCHOOLTEACHER (reluctantly): Good evening.
The children go away. The schoolteacher also goes on his
way. After a few steps he turns around and looks at the
children, then walks on.
NARRATOR: Then I thought of Liesl's dream again.
What if Liesl hadn't dreamt, but had known, that
Hansi was going to be tortured. Whose crimes did
she know of? Whose name had she refused to
The strong interest of the children in Hansi
seemed strange to me, considering that they had
usually refused to have any contact with him
because of his disability, or only dealt with
him in a rather disdainful manner.
The schoolteacher stops. He ponders about this. Then he
goes back to the midwife's house.
Suddenly I wondered why the midwife had closed
the shutters of the house. Nobody in the village
ever shut their house. Why had the midwife
locked her boy in?
He has reached the front of the house again. Indeed,
with its closed shutters, it looks uninhabited. Only
because of the tidy little front garden, could one tell
that somebody lived there.
The schoolteacher opens the garden gate and goes up to
the house. He tries to open the door and then the
shutters. Everything is well shut. He peers through the
cracks in the wooden shutters.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Hansi? Can you hear me? Hansi!
Nobody seems to answer. For a short moment the
schoolteacher disappears behind the house, apparently
looking for another way to get inside. But he soon comes
back without having found anything.
NARRATOR: If the midwife couldn't take care of
him, she would have entrusted the boy to me, or
to the doctor. But since the night he was
mistreated, I hadn't seen him again.
He leaves the midwife's house and hurries to the
neighboring house, the doctor's.
I decided to ask the doctor directly.
He enters the property, goes up to the entrance and
rings. Nobody answers. He rings again, then he sees a
note tacked up:
The doctor's practice is closed
until further notice
73. RECTORY. INT/NIGHT
The pastor's wife and the schoolteacher stand before the
closed front door.
PASTOR'S WIFE: His daughter? Wasn't she with you
at your school?
SCHOOLTEACHER: Yes, she was.
PASTOR'S WIFE: And she didn't say anything?
The schoolteacher shakes his head. They both remain
silent and pensive.
SCHOOLTEACHER: I have a request.
PASTOR'S WIFE: Yes?
SCHOOLTEACHER: Could I ask Marie and Martin?
PASTOR'S WIFE: Don't you want to wait for my
husband? He's at the church. The service will be
over in a quarter of an hour. But if you insist.
Please, come in.
She opens the door
and points to a chair.
Please be seated. Please. I'll fetch the kids
She leaves the room. The schoolteacher remains standing.
Finally, the pastor's wife comes back with the two
MARIE and MARTIN: Good evening, Sir.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Good evening.
THE PASTOR'S WIFE: Don't you want to sit down?
SCHOOLTEACHER (who hasn't thought of it): Yes.
Perhaps. With pleasure.
They sit down. The children sit opposite the
PASTOR'S WIFE: Can I offer you something? ,
(smiling faintly): A cup of coffee? Like during
the piano lessons
First the schoolteacher wants to refuse, then he decides
to accept so as to get rid of the woman, and be alone
with the children.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Yes, with pleasure. That's very
kind of you.
PASTOR'S WIFE: I'll be back in a minute.
The schoolteacher turns to the children:
SCHOOLTEACHER: Did you know that the Doctor was
SCHOOLTEACHER: But you don't seem surprised at
MARIE: Our mother told us when she came to fetch
SCHOOLTEACHER: And Xenia didn't tell you
anything about it?
She looks at Martin who confirms it:
SCHOOLTEACHER (incredulously): Not a word? It's
very unusual for a child not to tell his
classmates before going away on a trip.
MARIE (unimpressed): Xenia never talks much
SCHOOLTEACHER: Well, that's something completely
Apparently Marie doesn't take it as a further question,
and remains silent.
SCHOOLTEACHER: I get the feeling you're hiding
something from me.
SCHOOLTEACHER: That's what I'd really like to
SILENCE. Then the schoolteacher turns to Martin:
SCHOOLTEACHER: When you were looking for Hansi a
while ago, what did you want from him?
MARIE : We were worried. He's ill.
SCHOOLTEACHER: I'm asking Martin.
MARTIN: Yes. He isn't well. And since his mother
is gone... we thought, we should go and pay him
The schoolteacher realizes that he won't get any further
SCHOOLTEACHER: Did you ever ask yourselves who
could have treated Hansi that way?
PAUSE. Then the schoolteacher adds:
And who tied the wire in the doctor's garden?
And who set fire to the barn?
MARIE: Yes, of course we wondered.
MARIE: We discussed it with Father. He said it
must be a sick person.
PAUSE. The schoolteacher doesn't know how to go on.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Sigi was with you at
Thanksgiving. And so was Hansi.
MARIE: I don't understand.
With demonstrative helplessness she looks at the
schoolteacher, then at her brother, and again at the
schoolteacher: Shaking her head and shrugging her
SCHOOLTEACHER: What did they do to you?
MARIE (doesn't seem to understand): Who?
SCHOOLTEACHER: Sigi and Hansi?
MARIE (as above): Why?
SCHOOLTEACHER: They obviously were being
punished. For what?
MARIE (as above): I don't know.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Liesl foresaw that Hansi would be
punished? What for?
MARIE (as above): I don't know.
Why do you ask us?
SCHOOLTEACHER: You're an intelligent girl,
Marie. Don't try and play dumb.
MARIE: I don't understand you, Sir. You should
talk with Father about this or with Mother.
Shall I go get her?
The schoolteacher looks at her.
MARIE: Martin, would you please get her?
Martin gets up and is about to go to the door.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Stay here, Martin: I'll talk to
your parents when I consider it's the right
time. Now, I'm talking to you. And I expect you
tell me the truth.
Martin sits down after exchanging a glance with Marie
Where were you on the evening Hansi was found?
MARIE (doesn't seem to understand): At home.
SCHOOLTEACHER: I mean after the confirmation?
At that moment, the pastor's wife enters with the coffee
cups on a tray.
PASTOR'S WIFE: There we are. The coffee will be
ready in a minute.
She puts the tray on the table. Turns to the
schoolteacher, friendly as ever:
Were the children able to help you?
The schoolteacher looks at Marie, then he answers:
SCHOOLTEACHER: I'm afraid not. They don't know
PASTOR'S WIFE: That's really odd. A doctor can't
vanish into thin air. What about his patients?
(to the children) Didn't his daughter tell you
anything at school?
The schoolteacher gets up, ready to leave.
SCHOOLTEACHER: No. I'm sorry if I disturbed you.
PASTOR'S WIFE: Why don't you stay? My husband
will be back any moment, and the coffee is
SCHOOLTEACHER: That's very kind of you, but I'm
really worried about the midwife's son.
PASTOR'S WIFE: And she didn't say when she'd be
SCHOOLTEACHER: I didn't ask her. She caught me
off guard. She was completely panicked.
The pastor's wife shakes her head thoughtfully.
PASTOR'S WIFE: Strange... Wait a second! I think
that's my husband.
And indeed, outside one can hear the FRONT DOOR and then
the STEPS of the pastor. The wife goes to the door to
open it. The pastor appears.
PASTOR (surprised to see the schoolteacher):
PASTOR'S WIFE: Good evening. The schoolteacher
has been anxiously waiting for you.
PASTOR (to the schoolteacher): Yes?
SCHOOLTEACHER: Yes. I'd like to have a quick
chat with you.
The pastor doesn't really understand what can be so
urgent, and why the schoolteacher, which was unusual for
him, came to see him in the evening. But he remains
PASTOR: Please. We'd better go to my study. It's
The schoolteacher nods to the pastor's wife, who is glad
that the required meeting can now take place, while the
pastor walks ahead with an inviting gesture. As the
pastor opens the door of the STUDY, he asks:
PASTOR: Well, how can I help you?
They enter the room and the pastor offers the
schoolteacher a chair. Then he realizes that the windows
are open and closes them, as the schoolteacher starts to
SCHOOLTEACHER: I spoke to the midwife today: she
said she now knew who tortured her son.
PASTOR ("who"?): She does?
SCHOOLTEACHER: She'll only tell the police.
That's why she went to town.
PASTOR (doesn't quite understand what the
schoolteacher is getting at): Well?
SCHOOLTEACHER: She left the boy behind alone and
has locked the whole house.
PASTOR: Locked it?
SCHOOLTEACHER (nods): I went to the doctor's
next door to ask him what was going on, whether
he was taking care of the child or... But
there's a piece of paper saying that the
practice is closed until further notice. The
doctor and his children have disappeared.
The pastor has almost finished closing the windows. He
pauses and turns to the schoolteacher:
PASTOR (stunned): What do you mean?
SCHOOLTEACHER (shrugs): I don't know. I thought
you might have been informed. That's why I'm
After a startled PAUSE the pastor shakes his head:
PASTOR: I have no idea.
He finishes closing the windows. Then he goes
thoughtfully over to the schoolteacher and sits down in
front of him.
PASTOR: Xenia... Wasn't his daughter in school?
SCHOOLTEACHER: Yes, she was. She never mentioned
SILENCE. The pastor ponders. Then, after a while
SCHOOLTEACHER : I asked Marie and Martin. They
both know nothing either.
PASTOR (looks up to the schoolteacher,
"stunned"): Why should they?
The schoolteacher almost dodges speaking further:
SCHOOLTEACHER: I don't know. When I went to the
midwife's place, they were there with a few
others in the garden.
PASTOR ("doesn't understand"): To do what?!
SCHOOLTEACHER: They were looking for the boy.
PASTOR (as before): Why?
SCHOOLTEACHER: They wanted to help him.
PASTOR: So what
SCHOOLTEACHER (hesitates, then says): I don't
know how to say it. I have the feeling they're
PASTOR (refuses): What?
SCHOOLTEACHER (keeps on searching hesitantly for
his words): I don't know. (finally he dares to
come out with his suspicion): When the doctor
had his accident... last year, you remember,
Suddenly the children were in his garden.
Supposedly, in order to help Xenia.
PASTOR (doesn't understand): Yes... and?
The schoolteacher, uneasy, breathes hard. He knows that
his suspicions will seem odd, and senses that the pastor
won't go along with then.
SCHOOLTEACHER: Nothing. I had forgotten it.
Today, it came back to my mind again.
PASTOR (as before): I don't understand.
SCHOOLTEACHER: When they found the Baron's
son... the last time he had been seen, he was
with the children.
The pastor looks at the schoolteacher, then his face
slowly freezes to a mask of refusal:
PASTOR: What are you getting at?
Of course, the schoolteacher notices the reaction. But
he has already gone too far to backtrack. After a PAUSE
he goes on:
SCHOOLTEACHER: A couple of days before Hansi was
almost beaten to death, the steward's daughter
had predicted precisely that to me. Supposedly,
she had dreamed it. The police thinks she's
lying. Who told her about it? Who announced it
LONG SILENCE. Finally, the pastor gets up, takes a few
steps, then, after another PAUSE, turns again to the
schoolteacher. His face is ashen, and he can hardly
PASTOR: If I understand you correctly, you're
saying that your pupils, my children included,
committed these crimes. Is that right?
The schoolteacher has little affirmative and regretful
gesture. He feels extremely uncomfortable in this role.
Another PAUSE. Then, the pastor continues:
Do you realize what you're saying?
PAUSE. He breathes heavily, tries to control his
Do you know...
His voice fails. His chin starts to shake, tears flood
his eyes, and he suddenly turns away.
The schoolteacher who has been looking at him, now looks
down and stays where he is without saying a word.
After a while, the pastor has regained enough control of
himself to turn back to the schoolteacher:
I assume that I'm the first person to whom
you've uttered this monstrosity.
Mute reaction of the schoolteacher ("of course").
If you ever dare to bother other people with it,
if you publicly denounce respectable families
and their children in this abject way, I shall
make sure -- and you can take my word for it --
that you will go to prison.
The schoolteacher wants to reply something, but the
I've seen quite a lot during my work as a
pastor, but I've never come across anything as
repulsive as this.
He looks at the schoolteacher for a moment with disdain:
One can tell that you have no children.
Otherwise, you wouldn't stoop to such
viciousness. You have a sick mind. I wonder how
the school authorities could let you loose among
those poor creatures. I'll have a word with the
authorities at the proper time.
And now please leave my house. I never want to
see you here again.
74. THE MIDWIFE'S HOUSE EXT/DAY
The steward, his wife and the schoolteacher try to break
into the house.
First the steward tries several keys. As this doesn't
work, they break down a door at the rear of the house
and go in.
NARRATOR: The midwife never came back. I waited
until the morning, two days later. Then, I went
to the manor house to inform the Baron. He
referred me to the steward and said to open the
house immediately and to look after the disabled
75. THE MIDWIFE'S HOUSE INT/DAY
BACK TO THE SCENE.
The schoolteacher, the steward and his wife search
through the house. Because of the closed shutters, its
rooms are veiled in half-light. Several times they call
"Hansi"!, "Hello, Hansi, where are you"?, which can
faintly be heard under the narrator's voice.
In the midwife's bedroom, the schoolteacher notices a
photo: it shows the doctor, an unknown woman, and Xenia
as a small girl.
The boy is nowhere to be found.
NARRATOR: I had never come to the midwife's
house and felt uncomfortable at the idea of
barging into somebody else's house without
asking. It was strange, but we were still
seeking and calling out anxiously Hansi's name,
and I already knew, that we were searching in
vain. Anyone who knew the midwife also knew how
devoted she was to her disabled child, and that
she would never have left her wounded Hansi all
The three searchers, who have found nothing, meet again
in the stairwell.
76. THE MIDWIFE'S HOUSE EXT/DAY
The schoolteacher, the steward and his wife come out
from behind the house, leave the property and go their
separate ways on the street. All that is left is the
empty house with its closed shutters.
NARRATOR: During the next few weeks, the village
gossip-factory worked overtime.
Some claimed, the doctor was Hansi's father. He
and the midwife had tried to abort the child so
that the shame of their relationship wouldn't be
found out, and that's how the child became
disabled. Others even went as far as to claim
that there was something fishy about the death
of the doctor's wife, and that they wouldn't be
surprised, if the two weren't responsible for
77. MONTAGE: EXT/DAY
The houses of the doctor, the pastor, the farmer, the
street before the school, the estate's administrative
buildings and the manor house.
There is nobody to be seen.
NARRATOR: Whoever had lynched the boy obviously
knew about the hidden crimes of his parents.
Suddenly it seemed even possible that the doctor
and the midwife, as potential murderers, were
also the perpetrators of all the other crimes.
It was suspected, that the doctor had wanted to
spare his legitimate children and himself public
disclosure of his guilt, and had therefore fled
with them. Apparently he had taken the disabled
boy with him out of guilt. Understandably
enough, he had left behind his accomplice and
the mother of the disgraced child.
The fact that it was on a bicycle that she tried
to catch up with the man who had happily
escaped, was the cause of a great deal of
The deserted estate is decorated with flags.
On July 28th Austria declared war on Serbia. It
was followed on Saturday, August 1rst, by the
German declaration of war on Russia, and on
France the following Monday.
HIGH ANGLE SHOT:
The villagers are about to take their seats. The smaller
children are sitting with their parents on the pews.
All are in their Sunday best, the members of the militia
are in uniform. Flags are planted. Joyful excitement
Once the church is full, the Baron, the Baroness and
their son Sigi walk down the aisle and sit down in the
NARRATOR: On the Sunday between those dates, the
whole village came to the festive service.
An atmosphere of expectation and departure was
in the air. From now on nothing would be the
Only a few days ago everybody would have called
the life they lived as God's will, worthy of
being lived, and would have shunned any change.
The strange joy with which the coming war was
greeted, showed that this certainty of order and
security was based on very shaky foundations.
Of all the adult leading characters of the film, aside
from the doctor and the midwife. Also of Eva and her
In the frenzy of patriotic enthusiasm that was
flaring up, the events that had shaken Eichwald,
had become an irrelevant.
In the face of the coming war, Eva's father had
taken his daughter back and, at her pleading,
had come to Eichwald to cast an eye at the place
where his future son-in-law was living and
working. The prospect, that I might soon call
this beloved creature my wife, turned this day
also into a solemn day for me.
The pastor never mentioned our conversation
again. Our relationship was limited to what was
required professionally. He apparently never
went through with his threat to denounce me to
The schoolteacher on the gallery lifts his hands and
cues them to begin. They start SINGING. We see them one
after the other. At the end we see Marie: she wears the
white ribbon in her hair.
Today, more than a quarter of a century later,
toward the end of my life, and several years
after the end of a second war that was to change
this world in a more cruel and radical way than
the first one, the one we faced at the time, I
wonder if the events of those days and our
silence about them, weren't the germ of the
tragedy toward which we were heading.
Didn't we all know secretly what had happened in
our midst? Hadn't we, in a way, made it possible
by closing our eyes? Didn't we keep our mouths
shut because otherwise we would have had to
wonder if the misdeeds of these children, of our
children, weren't actually the result of what
we'd been teaching them?
The image of Marie singing with the shining white ribbon
I was drafted at the start of the third year of
the war. After the war, I sold the house in
Grundbach that I had inherited from my father,
who had died in the meantime, and with the money
I opened a tailor's shop in the town, where I
still live now.
I never saw anybody from the village again.
Over the FREEZE FRAME the END CREDITS begin. Once the
narrator's VOICE has gone silent, we listen to Bach's
solemn chorale. The children sing beautifully.